Well, hello my fellow classmates ~~
Francesca Di Fabio, here – we already went over how and why I got my name; so, let’s jump straight to it. I come from a hard-working, Italian American household, raised by both of my lovely grandmothers, mother, father, and older brother. I was blessed enough to have one grandma – my Nonna – live down the street, and my other grandma – who we called Morning – live in the bottom half of our mother-daughter house. Both of my Italian grandmas have passed but our lovely memories of drawing, painting, gardening, cooking home-made pasta and sauce together will live on forever.
I sleep in the very room my mother did too, when she was a young girl, following the motions toward womanhood. Now a grown woman myself, I take pleasure in waking up late on Sunday’s to the smell of Morning’s marinara sauce recipe boiling on the stove top – cooked by my mother and passed down from her own. Ready and served no later than 3 PM every Sunday. I learned quickly how to make room for two dinner servings every Sunday, because if not, my mother will take it as an insult to her cooking. It’s very simple: If we don’t eat, my mother is not pleased. My mother – a Jersey City Italian who’s a mix between Judge Judy and The Long Island Medium. Trust me, you want to please the woman!
But who exactly am I? I wish I could tell you – I’m still figuring that one out. What I can tell you is that I obtained my bachelor’s degree in English, Writing, and Education from Kean University, and graduated in the Spring of 2022. Sometimes, I still can’t believe that I have a degree in English and am getting my M.A. in Writing Studies. Growing up, I often became embarrassed, frustrated, and overwhelmed that school was hard for me compared to the “average” person. I questioned my dyslexia every day and how it impacted my ability to read. And the worst part of it all was that I loved to learn but I just could not understand the information.
Instead of hating school, I decided to challenge academia. I became obsessed with teaching myself how to read and write. I would spend hours glossing over pages until I understood what the text was trying to tell me. Endless nights were spent worrying if I looked dumb to my peers or wondering why a simple assignment took me twice as long. Somehow, I graduated undergrad with a flawless 4.0 GPA average, not allowing myself to receive anything less.
It took time to be proud of myself about graduating college with a 4.0 GPA: apparently, that’s a huge accomplishment. I’ve always had difficulty congratulating or celebrating myself. Because, what if it all doesn’t go as planned? How could I celebrate such an accomplishment when there are endless possibilities for failure in the future? Unfortunately, that’s how an anxiety-induced, perfectionist thinks. I know it’s a problem; hence why I spent three months in a partial, hospitalization center – famously known for being referred to as ~ rehab ~. I have no shame talking about my struggles with mental health because it’s my reality. The random panic attacks paired with the spiraling thoughts, throw-up fits, and arthritis flare-ups come with being a perfectionist.
So, I write to understand my thoughts because it turns out I got a whole lot of them. I write for my therapist. I write for myself. I write my kids yoga lessons. I write short stories that mirror my very, deep feelings and emotions. I write because I never thought I could. I read to teach myself how to write, so that I can turn around and tell the next person, “ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE!”