Sometimes a book will appear in my life for a reason. Perhaps this is the case more often than not and the reason I picked up My Beloved World when I did and read it when I did. Justice Sotomayor’s story is an inspiration for me, and I hope for other women. Her memoir is a testament to how determination, tenacity, and never letting go of the dream that we hold close can come true. In our society, girls and women are often told they can’t do “a man’s job”; they shouldn’t try to aspire to the Presidency of the United States; and they can’t have a family and a career at the same time. This memoir shines a light on what’s possible, and hidden inside her story is a map showing a way to accomplish one’s dream—even the most unlikely and impossible dream.
Justice Sotomayor writes: “Some readers may find comfort, perhaps even inspiration, from a close examination of how an ordinary person, with strengths and weaknesses like anyone else, has managed an extraordinary journey.”
Justice Sotomayor is a Puerto Rican from the South Bronx. I am the daughter of a veteran from Chula Vista via various military bases. I was born in the lower economical and educational stratosphere of our society and culture; my childhood was not easy and full of comforts, or opportunities. And yet, my childhood was filled with lessons that helped to shape me to the woman I have become. Some of the lessons were painful, but I wouldn’t change any of them because I continue to learn from the lessons of my childhood.
Justice Sotomayor has defied all odds and has risen to the top in her field. The way her brilliant mind interprets the Constitution inspires me. I am glad a woman with her ancestry and personal history sits on the Supreme Court. My path is, and has been, completely different from Justice Sotomayor’s path. I don’t have my photograph on the front cover of Time or The Rolling Stone. I don’t jet set with movie stars or ambassadors. I don’t own a mansion in Beverly Hills or an apartment in Manhattan. But no matter what has happened in my life, I find myself holding onto my dream of making a difference in this world, a world where the environment is protected; where children are loved and nurtured; where grandmothers and grandfathers aren’t refugees; where women are respected and listened to; where young men aren’t treated like fodder and sent to war.
I came from humble beginnings. I continue to manifest, in thought and action, what my father and mother taught me as I grew up. I strive to live with courage, like my father did. I’m curious about so many things, like my father was. I nurture and develop my creativity, like my mother did. I strive to live my dream, like my mother encouraged me to do. Because no matter how many times the little girl from Chula Vista has been pushed aside or suppressed because she is a girl, as a woman I don’t accept that dynamic any longer.
I have a lot of work to do. I know challenges will greet me as I try to do my best, but like Justice Sotomayor, whose story is an inspiration and a roadmap for me, I won’t be defeated by external circumstances or opinions. I want to be an inspiration as well, and so, I will continue to write everyday. I will continue to read everyday. I will continue to be in the trenches working with veterans, helping them tell their stories. And I will continue to tell my stories with the hope “that some readers may find comfort, perhaps even inspiration, from a close examination of how an ordinary person, with strengths and weaknesses like anyone else, has managed an extraordinary journey.”