By Xochtil Larios, CURYJ’s Youth Justice Program Associate
This is a piece I did for Hayward High School’s Puente program. During this time in my life I would get kicked out of school for not having outstanding grades in the rest of my classes. It was 2013, and I was 13 years-old.
Purpose is the reason you want to be here! I ask why people, places, or things belong. My specific purpose in this shady ass life is to never change and always stay the same, do everything I can to be happy, but mainly to be me. In my life I want to be somebody better, maybe a brain surgeon, or a nurse, but at the very least following through on things. Why can’t I believe in myself? How do I defy my passions, wishes, and dreams? I just got to keep it moving and grooving, and reducing bad choices. If I make these positive changes could I have a million dollars waiting to be touched by me? Maybe it’s not about the money, maybe I can change young adults way of thinking, because I wanna be remembered as somebody with purpose.
For me, the biggest issue was loving my mother. Why couldn’t she realize my purpose in this life? Didn’t she know that Jesus let me step foot on earth for a greater purpose? Because the day I was born, it was magic. I lightweight debated that as time passes was I going to change? In reality, I didn’t want to be a failure. I wanted to receive scholarships from every college in existence, because I deserved it.
I reminded myself everyday to see beyond what is in front of me, to turn my struggles into hustles. As a youth, I didn’t care about anything. Why should I? Why should I have felt as though you could tell me anything? Who were you? Who was I? The reason is I had been through too much. My experiences were too different than yours. Did you think of that? Those things made me who I am, they made me tangible. I was someone holding in a lot of energy. What was I holding in? My voice, my smiles, my beauty.
What it boiled down to was that I was a change-maker, I was someone people saw potential in, even a future for. I would be a legend, they just needed to watch.
Now let’s take a moment to reflect. Who was I before?
Since day one it was important for me to break chains, and shine a light for my sisters that they could follow without having to experience my suffering and pain, but rather my love. Breaking these chains showed my two little sisters, Sophia and Melody, that it’s okay to fail as long as you don’t quit pursuing your purpose.
Before CURYJ, I was employed at the American Swim Academy in 2015 as a lifeguarding. That particular job helped define me, it took me one step closer to my goals. I loved that job, because I took pride in helping others in my community, like when I saved my first active victim from drowning at James Logan High School. His dad will never forget the moment where I jumped in the deep end. I knew in that moment my purpose was to help people.
On Feb 15th, 2017 a tragic episode took place in my life, and I was detained in Juvenile Hall for 200 plus days. I embraced that experience by still completing my high school diploma and started college in the Hall. Although, the experience was out of my comfort zone, I sang, wrote, danced, and helped plan their Cinco de Mayo event.
While being detained I met a nonprofit organization called Community United for Restorative Youth Justice (CURYJ), which today I have a permanent job with as their first Youth Justice Program Associate.
My experiences with CURYJ have allowed me some unbelievable opportunities, and one of them took place on October 20th 2018 when I received a Youth Award from The California Endowment. Nearly 300 youth applied, and I was one of 15 young people selected. It was a huge moment for me to reflect with my family, but most importantly for my mother to acknowledge me. Our relationship was strained, and It was my duty to reverse all the pain and frustration I put her through, and head towards a happier place.
What this award means is that I now have the money to pay off my restitution, and I thank CURYJ for seeing my purpose and pushing me to grow.