It was in early 2002, right after Senators

But I was left by the meeting crushed. My only solution, the lawyer said, was to get back to the Philippines and accept a ban that is 10-year I could apply to come back legally.

If Rich was discouraged, he hid it well. “Put this problem on a shelf,” he told me. “Compartmentalize it. Keep working.”

The license meant everything to me — it might let me drive, fly and work. But my grandparents concerned about the Portland trip while the Washington internship. While Lola offered daily prayers to ensure i might not get caught, Lolo told me that I was dreaming too large, risking an excessive amount of.

I happened to be determined to pursue my ambitions. I happened to be 22, I told them, in charge of my own actions. But it was not the same as Lolo’s driving a confused teenager to Kinko’s. I knew the thing I was doing now, and it was known by me wasn’t right. But what was I expected to do?

A pay stub from The San Francisco Chronicle and my proof of state residence — the letters to the Portland address that my support network had sent at the D.M.V. in Portland, I arrived with my photocopied Social Security card, my college I.D. It worked. My license, issued in 2003, was set to expire eight years later, back at my birthday that is 30th Feb. 3, 2011. I had eight years to ensure success professionally, and also to hope that some sort of immigration reform would pass into the meantime and permit us to stay.

It appeared like all the right amount of time in the entire world.

My summer in Washington was exhilarating. I happened to be intimidated to be in a major newsroom but was assigned a mentor — Peter Perl, a veteran magazine writer — to greatly help me navigate it. 2-3 weeks to the internship, he printed out one of my articles, about some guy who recovered a wallet that is long-lost circled the first two paragraphs and left it back at my desk. “Great eye for details — awesome!” he wrote. Though i did son’t know it then, Peter would become one more member of my network.

In the final end of the summer, I returned to The san francisco bay area Chronicle. My plan would be to finish school — I was now a— that is senior I struggled to obtain The Chronicle as a reporter for the city desk. But once The Post beckoned again, offering me a full-time, two-year paid internship that i really could start whenever I graduated in June 2004, it was too tempting to pass up. I moved back into Washington.

About four months into my job as a reporter for The Post, I began feeling increasingly paranoid, as if I had “illegal immigrant” tattooed on my forehead — and in Washington, of all places, where the debates over immigration seemed never-ending. I happened to be so desperate to prove myself that I feared I was annoying some colleagues and editors — and worried that any one of these professional journalists could discover my secret. The anxiety was nearly paralyzing. I decided I experienced to tell one of many higher-ups about my situation. I turned to Peter.

By this time, Peter, who still works in the Post, had become part of management as the paper’s director of newsroom training and development that is professional. One afternoon in late October, we walked a couple of blocks to Lafayette Square, across from the White House. Over some 20 minutes, sitting on a bench, I told him everything: the Social Security card, the driver’s license, Pat and Rich, my children.

It was an odd type of dance: I was attempting to stand out in an extremely competitive newsroom, yet I was terrified that when I stood out way too much, I’d invite scrutiny that is unwanted. I tried to compartmentalize my fears, distract myself by reporting in the lives of other people, but there clearly was no escaping the conflict that is central my entire life. Maintaining a deception for so long distorts your feeling of self. You start wondering who you’ve become, and exactly why.

What is going to happen if people find out?

I couldn’t say anything. After we got off the phone, I rushed towards the bathroom in the fourth floor for the newsroom, sat down on the toilet and cried.

During summer of 2009, without ever having had that follow-up talk with top Post management, I left the paper and relocated to New York to participate The Huffington Post . I met

at a Washington Press Club Foundation dinner I happened to be covering when it comes to Post two years earlier, and she later recruited me to join her news site. I wanted to learn more about Web publishing, and I also thought the newest job would offer a education that is useful.

The greater I achieved, the more depressed and scared i became. I was happy with might work, but there was always a cloud hanging over it, over me. My old deadline that is eight-year the expiration of my Oregon driver’s license — was approaching.

Early this season, just fourteen days before my 30th birthday, I won a small reprieve: I obtained a driver’s license in the state of Washington. The license is valid until 2016. This offered me five more years of acceptable identification — but additionally five more several years of fear, of lying to people I respect and institutions that trusted me, of running away from who i will be.

I’m done running. I’m exhausted. I don’t want that life anymore.

So I’ve decided to come forward, own up to what I’ve done, and tell my story towards the best of my recollection. I’ve reached off to former bosses­ and employers and apologized for misleading them — a mixture of humiliation and liberation coming with every disclosure. All the social people mentioned in this specific article provided me with permission to utilize their names. I’ve also talked to friends and family about my situation and am working with a lawyer to examine my options. I don’t know what the effects is likely to be of telling my story.

I do know me the chance for a better life that I am grateful to my grandparents, my Lolo and Lola, for giving. I’m also grateful to my other family — the support network I found here in America — for encouraging me to follow my dreams.

It’s been almost 18 years since I’ve seen my mother. In early stages, I became mad in this position, and then mad at myself for being angry and ungrateful at her for putting me. Because of the time I got to college, we rarely spoke by phone. It became too painful; after a while it had been much easier to just send money to help support her and my two half-siblings. My sister, almost two years old whenever I left, is almost 20 now. I’ve never met my 14-year-old brother. I might want to see them.

Not long ago, I called my mother. I wanted to fill the gaps in my memory about this August morning a lot of years back. We had never discussed it. Section of me desired to shove the memory aside, but to publish this informative article and face the important points of my life, I needed more information. Did I cry? Did she? Did we kiss goodbye?

My mother told me I happened to be stoked up about meeting a stewardess, about getting on a plane. She also reminded me for the one piece of advice I was given by her for blending in: If anyone asked why I became arriving at America, i will say I was planning to Disneyland .

Jose Antonio Vargas ( is a reporter that is former The Washington Post and shared a Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Virginia Tech shootings. He founded Define American, which seeks to improve the conversation on immigration reform. Editor: Chris Suellentrop (