Claudia D. Hernández was born and raised in Guatemala. She is a photographer, poet, and a bilingual educator in the Los Angeles area. She writes short stories, children’s stories, and poetry. Her writing subtlety focuses on social issues that deal with poverty, immigration, gender issues, language, and race. Her short stories often depict the plight of immigrants who contend with such obstacles as assimilation, racism, and self-hate. She also emphasizes the beauty of America Latina’s heritage, language, and customs.
My Definition Of Success | H A P P I N E S S is the only word that comes to mind when I define what success means to me. My interpretation of success doesn’t necessarily mean building or accumulating wealth, or having four degrees under one’s belt. Being successful to me means finding genuine joy in the little things I do to heal and empower myself, as well as those around me. Being successful is also having the ability to enjoy the most mundane little things that life has to offer; living in the present; seizing the moment; continuously creating to enrich my life.
I Am Driven By | Hunger. But this hunger does not get satiated with food. As a young girl, I experienced literal hunger in my motherland, Guatemala. This hunger is not what drives me now, nor any other allegorical hungers I have experienced throughout my life. I remember being hungry for acceptance; hungry for detachment; hungry for belonging; hungry for solitude; hungry for chaos. The hunger that drives me now is hunger for wisdom, happiness, and a hunger for reconstruction and deconstruction.
The Difference Between Good And Great | People who are great at what they do have an intrinsic sense of passion and creativity. Passion and creativity to me are like the yin and yang; they are interdependent upon each other. Passion without creativity or creativity without passion is not enough. This is the fine line that separates the great from the good.
A Key Talent | The strength I’m most proud of and has been critical to my success is my unapologetic perseverance. I do not give up easily. When I want something, I work hard to attain it. I don’t do things to please or impress others; I do things for myself and I’m not afraid to fail. Pablo Picasso once said, “If you want to achieve greatness stop asking for permission”. I take that quote to another level, my motto has always been, “When you want something, just take it and own it”.
So far, I have accomplished everything I’ve wanted in life. I got the opportunity to immigrate to the United States at the age of ten and my first goal was to learn English—which I did. I wanted to start a family—I got married at a young age and had my only son. I wanted to be a bilingual elementary school teacher—I went back to school. I wanted to run marathons—I joined a running club. I wanted to be a photographer—I bought a camera. I wanted to paint and play with clay—I took ceramics and art classes during my undergrad. I wanted to be a writer, poet—I applied to an MFA creative writing program and got accepted. I wanted to travel—I visit Latin American countries whenever possible. I wanted to reinvent myself—I got a divorce and started anew. I don’t remember asking anyone for permission to dream or to achieve any of my goals. I’m not insinuating that my life is perfect. I have failed on various occasions, but I have learned to accept and internalize pain as part of the human condition. I have also learned the art of picking my shattered self up from the floor, gluing myself back together piece by piece, and starting all over again—stronger.
Principles I Live By | I keep things simple. I guide my life by free will, ethical integrity, and emotional intelligence.
Lessons I Have Learnt | The most important lesson I have learnt so far is to take slow motion shots of every moment of my life. I literally mean: slow down to smell and taste the petals of flowers. I’m learning to live in the present. I’m constantly training myself to enjoy every single moment without overthinking or worrying about the non-existent past or future. In the past, I have burnt myself out multitasking in order to overachieve or to get ahead of the game. I didn’t realize that I wasn’t breathing or seeing what was around me. Time flew by me. Now, I strive to contemplate and make moments in my life memorable no matter how small or big they are.
Dealing With Doubt | I pretend to be a strong, determined woman on the outside (my acting is so good that many times I convince myself), but deep inside I’m terrified of life. Every day is a constant battle with myself. I doubt myself all the time, but I try not to show it. I face my doubts, my fears, with a knotted stomach and a wilting fist in the air. There are times I go to work with butterflies in my stomach, but once I’m there, the butterflies settle down. I go to school thinking I don’t belong there, but once I’m there, I make sure I speak my mind even if my voice trembles and my face explodes into all shades of red. When I write a poem or snap a photograph, I convince myself that I’m a terrible writer, the worst photographer, but I submit my pieces nonetheless hoping that after ten or twenty rejections one will find a home. I have witnessed on various occasions that most things always work out in the end. The secret is to show up no matter how vulnerable or insecure one feels and to make a fist even if it never goes up in the air.
The Legacy I Would Like To Leave | I would like for Today’s Revolutionary Women of Color project to grow and extend to other countries. I would like to see it take on a life of its own and evolve after I’m gone.