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5 Humble Admissions from Sonia Sotomayor

Sonia Sotomayor has a lot to brag about. She was the first Hispanic and the third woman ever to be appointed to the United States Supreme court. She overcame a troubled childhood to achieve highest honours at Princeton and Yale. She was appointed to the Federal District Court by age 38 and has become an American Icon in the process. In spite of all of this Sonia Sotomayor has remained true to herself. In her book My Beloved World she reveals the blessings in her life and does not hide the ugly bits either.

There is a lot to be learned from Sonia Sotomayor’s  overwhelming ability to stay grounded. The struggle to stay true to herself in spite of all of her success is what prompted her to write My Beloved World. “I wrote this book right after my nomination because I wanted to hold on to the real Sonia,” she explained.  The true Sonia definitely shines through in her memoir.

In My Beloved World, Sonia Sotomayor admits five candid truths that show her humility and inspire others around her to show such poise in the face of success.

1       I’m just like you and I still made it

Sotomayor has never considered herself as anything extraordinary. Rather, she sees herself as a normal person who was able to achieve great things. She said that “I think to move people beyond just dreaming and into doing; they have to be able to see that you’re just like them and you still made it.” That may be one of the most inspiring things about Sotomayor, the fact that there was no special moment of extreme luck that took her to where she is now. Her secret to success is hard work and perseverance.  She admitted to spending hours at the library as a child devouring anything she could get her hands on. She failed at her first job as a summer associate in a New York firm. Her path to success has included hard work, successes and even failures. While some may find that to be a boring way to climb the ladder to success, it’s actually more inspiring because it’s a path that anyone can take.

Not only does Sotomayor thank hard work for her success, but also everyone around her. She stresses that she is not self-made.  Once again Sotomayor’s humility shines through. Sometimes when we get to the top of a mountain we just want to scream “I did it!” but not Sonia; she thanks and acknowledges everyone around her. This not only teaches us all a lesson in appreciation, but also shows us that there is no problem with having help from those around you in order to reach your goals.

2       Sonia Sotomayor candidly shares her troubled home life in My Beloved World

The child of an alcoholic father, who died when Sonia was nine, and the child of a distant, even neglectful, mother, Sotomayor was faced with obstacles from the moment she was born. She grew up in a working class home in the Bronx, where she found solace in the arms of her grandmother. She was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes at age eight and after hearing her parents fight about giving her the needle, she learned how to give it to herself. This was one of the driving forces in her life. She believed that because of her diabetes that she would not live as long as most. Her disease gave her a sense of urgency the never faded away, even after her fear of a shorter life proved unfounded.

Sonia Sotomayor is not a woman who grew up in a life of privilege and wealth. Like most of us, she lived a middle class life and had to struggle to overcome her own issues. One of her biggest issues being her relationship with her mother, a struggle that persisted well into her adulthood.  She shared that “the mother I grew up with is not the mother I know now.” She explains in My Beloved World that she rarely saw her mother, and when she did, she was angry. It took looking back on her childhood to realize that her mother was just mourning over the loss of her husband and trying to support the family on her own. With time Sonia has been able to understand her mother and learn with her. “In watching my mother grow and develop herself, I grew and developed myself.”

3       “Everybody has a little ego.”

What made Sonia Sotomayor want to become a judge? She wanted to become the most important woman in the room, of course! When watching an episode of Perry Mason she remembers seeing Perry turn to the judge after a guilty verdict. “At that moment I realized that the most important person in that room was the judge and I wanted to be that person.”  This ego is exactly what took her out of the Bronx and into American History. If Sotomayor’s ego tells us anything it’s that sometimes we have to see ourselves as the most important person in the room. We have to see that we are deserving of greatness in order to even take the first steps to achieve that greatness.

4       Sotomayor admits to feeling the occasional tug of regret over never having children

Successful women are not supposed to apologize for their successes, or so we are told. Most taboo of all would be talking about what we had to give up for our success but sometimes it’s the truth. Sotomayor’s candor about her lack of a family comes as refreshing. She never tries to pretend that success does not come with costs. While she does live a very fulfilling life, Sotomayor tells us truthfully of what she had to do to achieve her goals.

“I knew that I wanted to be an independent woman with my own career and successful in whatever I chose to do. Could I have had that and had children? Many women do. Can you have it all every minute of the day? No.” That’s one of Sotomayor’s best qualities;  she’s not afraid to share the reality of it all. She shares her harsh childhood, her excruciating work to get her to where she is and even her regrets. We don’t feel sorry for Sotomayor, we feel overwhelmingly inspired by her.

5       Sotomayor doesn’t feel sorry for herself either. She still feels hopeful for love.

Another part of her life that Sotomayor shares with us is her failed marriage. She divorced her high school sweetheart in 1983 but she has not given up hope for finding her next great love. Her mother fell in love again late in life and Sotomayor admits to wondering if that will happen to her, but the man will have to wait. “To have a romance you have to have time. The guy’s gonna have to wait until I’m a little bit freer.”

What may be the most beautiful thing about Sotomayor is that she never limits herself. “I haven’t finished growing yet…I’m young at heart, young in spirit and I’m still adventurous.” This woman, who has never let anything hold her back, isn’t going to start now. Her story is one of candid truthfulness, struggle, success and hope. If we learn anything from her it should be to never give up, no matter what the obstacle so that maybe we too could find that we’ve “gone further than any dream you ever had.”

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Taylor Brown

Taylor Brown is an Associate Editor at Goddess Connections for the Women Who Run It E-Mag. She graduated from Wilfrid Laurier University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications Studies. She is a resident of Toronto and she has a passion for exploring topics on health and fitness, and enjoys writing stories about women’s issues. She also enjoys writing about business and how to build a career. When she is not working for Women Who Run It you can find her exploring Toronto, going for jogs, or simply enjoying life as a strong, empowered woman who runs it. Her goal is to share stories that help women of all walks of life take control of their lives and create balance with ease.