Since Chaos Comes Naturally was published Mariela Valdivia, author of “Keep Growing” in the anthology, continues to feed her creativity through journal writing and by documenting her emotional journey and experiences as a writer. Chaos Comes Naturally is a 826CHI Young Authors Book Project from 2020 that centers on the theme of belonging. Students at George Washington High School explored their lived experiences at different ages, answering the guiding questions: How do you find belonging in Chicago?
To answer this prompt, Valdivia writes:
That feeling of emptiness you get is because your heart belongs to Mexico. Not only because it’s your parents home but because all your family is there and Spanish was your first language. I’d advise you to be careful who you talk to, but most importantly, always be thankful even for the bad things. If it wasn’t for them, you might not be the same person you are now. Don’t be upset about the people who you have lost along the way because those who stayed are really worth your time. Although friendships and relationships often hurt, it is best to let go of toxic people.
“826CHI tremendously impacted my life as a writer because I always thought that what I wrote wasn’t as important as I thought it would be. However, upon working with Natasha and another young lady both showed me that my thoughts and words had power. I can make people feel the same as I do, or simply identify with what I feel or express,” shared Valdivia.
Green, white, red, eagle, eagle, eagle with a bright snake
Freedom, freedom, freedom
This is the Mexican flag, she screams with pride and cheer
Here I am next to my Mexican flag
A marked territory of the Aztecs, Mayas, Zapotecas, and Mixtecas
These are the Indigenous people who with power and civilization made this happen
Here I stand next to my Indigenous people Where I belong and where I’ve always been
CON MI GENTE!
A proud Latina, born in the United States, Valdivia has lived in Illinois all her life and enjoys the city of Chicago because she believes there are so many cultural places for students, grown-ups, and kids to learn. One of her favorite things to do is to help others, to make people feel welcomed and loved, and to encourage them to feel that they belong in this world.
When reading “Keep Growing” Valdivia wants readers to experience this joy for community and her emotional side, specifically the emotional depth of our youth. “I want others to be impacted by youthful imagery and for adults to remember that they were once there. I want readers to understand that we all have emotions and that we're all somebody, it's okay to not be okay.”
Chaos Comes Naturally is a window into the experiences, imaginations, dreams, and knowledge of Chicago's young people as they present a clear portrait of how the city has or has not welcomed them.
"When I read the book, all the wonderful poetry and stories, it's hard to choose a favorite because they all tell a story about the author or the author’s mind."
Read Valdivia’s full piece and others like it by purchasing your own copy of Chaos Comes Naturally here.