‘A Piece of Advice’ by Karina Gasca

This piece was part of the Ánimo Voices Competition, which invited students to write about innovators, upstanders, visionaries, or rebels that have made a difference in their local or broader communities. The competition was an opportunity to motivate, recognize, and celebrate our strong student voices through writing and art.

A Piece of Advice

by Karina Gasca, 10th grade, Ánimo Ralph Bunche Charter High School


It was night, I remember. I was sitting on the bathroom tile floor. The white and light blue tiles cold against my bare calves. My legs crossed over one another, my arms wrapped around my own body in a failed attempt to shrink away from the world. I don’t really know why I was crying, but now that I look back, I felt absolutely desolated. When I heard the front door open I knew my dad was home. I had quickly covered my mouth as I tried to quiet down my sobs. I got up and desperately splashed my face with water. My eyes were swollen and red, my hair looked like it had been teased, and my hands were still shaking. I fixed myself and hurriedly walked to my room, all the while looking down, but of course him being my dad, he knew something wasn’t right. He stopped me in my tracks and asked what was up. Still, I avoided his eyes and nodded my head, swallowing my tears back. He didn’t buy it though - he insisted on helping. But, I couldn’t let him see me like this.

I tried so hard to hold it in, but eventually I bursted like a little bubble. He hugged me and I slightly stiffened in his embrace; it was rare that my dad showed affection. It was unusual; it was nice. We didn’t stay like that for long. I pulled back and continued to look away. He angled his head in hopes of getting a better glance at my tear stained face. I don’t remember what happened or what I said in response - all I remember are his caring words that got to me: “Tu no mas as lo que a ti te guste. Si no estás lastimando a nadie, no te preocupes.” I immediately realized I had no reason to be upset, and those words have stuck with me since.

And just like that, my dad became one of the most inspirational people in my life. He constantly motivates me to keep trying - to be a better person. And sometimes, he doesn’t even realize how much he impacts our family. Like when we were at my sister’s high school graduation. It was day out: the sun shining it’s brightest, the creamy clouds ever so peeking out, and the sky a lovely shade of blue. There was a slight gust of wind once in a while. As cliche as this may sound, it was the perfect day for celebrating. We nonchalantly walked out the car, all of us looking put together. The excitement only increased with every step. My sister had already left beforehand, so when we saw her we hugged her and wished her the best. We walked into the place where the graduation was to be held - it smelled of wood and something else I couldn’t recognize. It was a fresh smell, very exhilarating. The place was huge, with fancy, almost ancient looking. decorations adorning the walls and ceiling. It reminded me of ancient theatres. And after that it was all a bliss.

We had a wonderful time, especially my dad. He stood and cheered and filmed - he looked so proud. It’s like he couldn’t believe they had done it; and I couldn’t believe just how happy he was. That moment I realized who I wanted to be. I decided I wanted to aim for the best: graduate with a 4.0 or higher, get into a good university, and have a successful career. Sure I wanted this for myself, but it was for my parents too. So they could be proud of me like they were with my sisters and brother. So they could confidently announce me as their youngest daughter. So I could see that look on my dad’s face one more time. So I could be proud of myself for making them proud.

Summertime was the only other time I’ve seen him that at ease. It was a warm afternoon that we went to the mountains. We had swirled our way up the rocky landscape. We drove for almost an hour or so before we found a good spot but with the sun beaming on us, we listened to music and melted into the moment. The wind was fresh and the view of wildlife and the city below us: amazing. We had wanted to go to the lake for so long and the opportunity had finally come. We packed food, towels, and other essentials. The drive was long but unexpectedly relaxing. When we finally got there, it was quite a scene. Families walking here to there, there to here. It was more crowded than I had anticipated. But still, it was a beautiful place.

We walked on the grey colored gravel road down to the lake. There were little kids yelling in excitement and toddlers splashing water all over the place - it was almost an amusement park. We hurriedly scrambled our way to the water. Unfortunately for us, the lake had little to no room for one more family. However, there was one nice, shady and conserved spot, but to get there you had to cross the lake. And so, us being us, we decided to cross. It was scary! The little stones barely managing to withstand our crushing weight. The water made the rocks slippery as hell, a risk I didn’t want to take. But seeing as my family had already crossed, I had no other option. I hesitantly crouched in an effort to have good balance. I creeped my way over, being overly cautious of my surroundings. When I made it across, the place was ten times more beautiful than it was before. The trees somehow seemed taller, their leaves more green and crisp. The sky: nice and clear with a few clouds decorating it. But the lake, oh the lake, ever so enchanting. The water poured from a tiny waterfall, tiny to large stones and rocks looking as if they were delicately placed, people gathered looking amazed. I couldn’t blame them. It was a sight I’ll never let myself forget.

And I’ll never let myself forget the look on my father’s face. That look - the same one he had at my siblings’ graduations, and many other life changing events or breath taking moments. It was a look of genuine happiness with a hint of pride. My dad always seemed so tired, and it made me smile knowing that he was enjoying himself. I too often remember the encouraging words that he had advised me that night. They bring me confidence and joy. And when I do recall this advice, I mentally thank my dad for having brightened up my mood. Not only that, but he’s drastically changed my life for the better. And I just hope that in the future, I can repay him all he’s done for me.