The Time I Almost Failed 9th Grade

Most of my freshman year in high school felt surprisingly amazing.  Before starting the year, I was terrified of being a freshman after hearing horror stories from my older sister’s friends about being hazed.  Thankfully this didn’t end up being the case since some of the older students ended up being very friendly and the others just went about their day.  I was still set on pursuing my dreams in acting, dance, and writing.  At home I would practice my dance, often dancing to classical music and attempting to teach myself ballet.  I would watch telenovelas to mimic the “phenomenal acting”, repeat the lines and emotions of the female lead until I got to the point where I could cry on queue.  My impromptu acting classes inspired me to start writing my first screenplay.

I was amazed at how quickly I was able to come up with dialogue, plots and characters that found a very special place in my heart.  Soon after starting the script, I felt obsessed with writing.  I remember spending all of my time during classes coming up with new dialogue, solving conflicts and creating new ones.  I would then go home and continue to write.  When it was time for bed, I remember closing my eyes and thinking about my next scene long enough for it to appear in my dreams.  My goal was for one day be able to make this film with the hopes that I was part of the cast.  

The surge of creativity came with a price.  Soon, I found out that I was failing most of my classes.  This, of course, didn’t sit well with my parents.  I didn’t know how to justify myself and and say to her “Mami mira, I failed porque I’m writing this craaazy novela that will hopefully get on TV one day, so we're good right?” I didn’t actually tell her that, but I sure did want to...maybe that would’ve got me out of being grounded.  

After a few months, my family and I moved to another part of town, this meant I had to change schools.  I was now playing the role of the “new girl” again at another high school.   Even though I was afraid of starting over, I still had the same amount of creativity as I had before.  I knew, however, that I needed to tone it down if I didn’t want my mother to get the chancleta on me…that’s how we solved problems at home.  

One of the last few pages of my script

One of the last few pages of my script

In this new school, I continued to work on my script while also balancing out my coursework.  I made a few friends who were curious about what I was always writing in my notebooks and asked if they could take a peek.  They loved it so much that every week they eagerly began asking if I created any new content.  My story became the entertainment of my Algebra I class, it was hilarious!

I then ran into another problem...what was supposed to be an 80-page script, turned to more than a 190-page script that STILL didn't have an ending.  I realized that I ended up getting way too attached to the characters, and felt like ending the story meant ending the adventure they were going through. I like to call it the “curse of creativity”, the opposite of writer’s block.

At the end of the year, it turned out that I did pass some of my courses, but it wasn't enough to be considered a full-blown 10th grader since I transferred mid-year, but I didn't let this stop me. It was important for me to continue my dreams to be an actress meanwhile finishing school, so I started sophomore year taking freshman classes and in doing this I discovered that my school also offered drama classes. I immediately enrolled and began a new adventure -- another story for another time.

Now that I have finished school and just finished college, people are often shocked when I tell them this story. They wonder how it was possible to make my grades slip so much by just focusing on a script.  I explain that it was because I was lost in my passion and I do not regret that at all because it ultimately brought me to where I am today.

Yari Olivo-Camacho