Grit is a Gift
You know those people who don’t have to study to get an A? Or the people who are magically good at any sport they try? Or the people who just seem to walk around with life unfolding so easily before them?
That’s not me.
You know that old football movie, Rudy? Where the main character is in love with Notre Dame football and will give anything to be part of the team?
Rudy is from Illinois and lacks ALL that is needed to make the team. He has no money, terrible grades, and is 5’6. His prospects are bleak.
BUT - Rudy wants to play for Notre Dame so badly. So he wills his way from a junior college to Notre Dame. THEN, he wills his way onto the practice football team where his body is used for hitting practice. And eventually after YEARS of trying his absolute hardest, he wills his way onto the OFFICIAL football team. And in the last game of his senior year, Rudy made ONE official play for Notre Dame Football before his teammates whisked him off the field in celebration.
THIS… this is more like me. I’m the person whose skills don’t quite measure up - but tries anyway.
Growing up, I was ashamed that I had to try so hard at everything - ballet, studying, band. I was always amazed that other people didn’t have to put in the work and yet -- we magically we arrived at the same place.
But over the years, the shame started to slough away and I started to become proud of trying. Proud that I had the onions to go after things that interested me.
To see something on the horizon and walk toward it – even though nothing says that the road to the horizon will be easy – is grit. And grit is a gift.
My parents gave me this gift.
My mom, Noelia Barrera Hernandez, migrated from Mexico to the US with her family when she was about 6 years old.
As a child her entire family would pile into the bed of truck, with only a tarp to protect them from the elements, and drive from the southernmost tip of Texas to Wisconsin -- to go pick beets and cucumbers. They lived in a one bedroom house with dirt floors. And while her parents worked in the fields, as a 6 year old, she’d care for her infant brother.
As a teenager she would go to school and after school would clock in at the local grocery store, working until 11pm most nights.
My dad, Renato David Hernandez, started working with his dad, Hortemio Hernandez, at age 11. During the summer, he would work at a farm co-op from 7 in the morning until 8 every night. He would weigh trucks carrying tomatoes, tally up tickets for farmers and their crews, and even call out-of-state truckers and place orders. He did this every summer until he turned 25. All the while, going to school, and helping his mother, my grandmother, open a flower shop.
On June 12th, 1983, at the ages of 24 and 25, my parents were married. And since it was the middle of tomato season, they didn’t go on a honeymoon. They were married on a Saturday and both returned to work the following Monday.
A few months later, with the support of their families, my mom and dad started their own business, beer corner stores. They called them, Pop-A-Top. Eventually these corners stores morphed into Holiday Wine and Liquor. And today, my folks have been in business 36 years, own 9 stores and have been able to employ and create opportunity for thousands of families.
As newlyweds, when my parents needed a weekend to themselves, they would make the 5 hour road trip from the Rio Grande Valley to Austin, Texas. They would pack up their small red truck with koozies and stop at convenience stores along the way – selling their wares. This was their weekend spending money.
My heart has always beamed with pride with who I come from and where I come from.
And while to some people, failure is not an option. For me, grit is the only option.
My parents, entirely by their actions, taught me how to dig in and put one foot in front of the other.
Somehow I have put one foot in front of the other and willed myself into a speaking and writing career, loving on women and reminding them of their innate worth.
I went from a career in hospitality-- to writing a blog -- to trying to write a book – to actually publishing a book -- to getting all sorts of amazing praise for the book – and even to speaking on the TEDx stage.
I have willed myself into a life I love that loves me back. Enjoying and cherishing my husband, girls, and our adventures - every single day.
And none of this would have been possible without grit.
The other day I was in Colombia with my family and I sent my mom and dad this photo.
I thanked them for giving me such a beautiful life.
I’m a 35, married and a mama, and I absolutely know whose shoulders I stand on.
Could my parents ever have imagined their impact? Their lives have reached far and wide — through all the people they’ve touched, through all the people who have watched them walk through the world, through my readers and their children, and beyond.
Mom and Dad, I have endless gratitude for the people you are in the world and for the parents you have been to us. You are adored, cherished and valued. The world is a better place because of you.
Friend, there’s honor in seeing something on the horizon and doing your best to get there. If your heart is calling you to make a move, to go forward, to explore, to stay, to make a change, to fulfill a dream - listen. Will the road be easy? Nope. Do you have what it takes to walk the path? Yes.
Dig those heels in and give it your all. Begin.
I'm Catia, a woman, wife, mama, sister, sister friend, you know -- I wear a million hats just like you.
One of my biggest whys is that I want people to feel good about ALL of who they are. Including you.
If I could choose ten words that best describe me I would say: honest, welcoming, giving, curious, loving, earnest, empathetic, spiritual, playful, and sassy. Let's add: adventurous. That's 11.
Nice to meet you!