When I was first introduced to NPR’s “This I Believe” essay series in creative writing class junior year, I was immediately struck by the entire philosophy behind it; someone had decided to undertake the arduous task of deciding what it is that they believed in- and then invited the rest of the world to join in. In the 1950’s when it was originally created by radio journalist Edward Murrow, the world had become wrapped up in fear and chaos. Communism and the Cold War lingered in the shadows of America causing hysteria among the public- all the while the government began to accuse their fellow Americans based on evidence as little as a person’s private beliefs. When Edward Murrow introduced this radio series he said, “At a time when the tide runs toward a sure conformity, when dissent is often confused with subversion, when a man’s belief may be subject to investigation as well as his actions…”, he decided that perhaps it was time for a little hope, and who wouldn’t admire that? It seemed I couldn’t escape the curiosity that awakened in me from this idea of faith and belief to the point that every time I returned to creative writing, it consumed me; I knew that I had to know more. Finally, a week later I decided to go to the library to pick up “This I Believe” volume one and eagerly began to read. After I had read through about half of the essays of the greatest minds in America, both people famous and ordinary, I couldn’t help but wonder what it is that I believe in. At this point in my life, as a teenager, I often feel like I am being pulled in multiple directions and it comforted me to read of people who seemed so sure of who they are. Looking back on this past year, I feel that I am constantly being tested by others on this very question. I’ve had my buttons pushed by those I once cared for, lost the one thing in school I always counted on, and experienced failure for the first time after giving my most sincere efforts. I experienced real disappointment in myself to the point where most might have just given up. I never expected junior year to be easy academically, but I also never expected to lose hope in the one thing that I truly believed would be there for me throughout high school, as it always had been in the past. I spent many sleepless nights deciding what it is that you do when you lose something you believed in. Do you replace it? Do you forget about it? Do you hold onto it? No. Instead, I used the turmoil and anger that resulted from its loss and turned it into the energy necessary to adapt, to find something else I could put my care and time into. I decided to reinvent myself and to let go of what I had lost. What I lost does not define who I am and I learned that as with people; some beliefs come and go with time. I decided it was time to do the things I had been putting off, the things I had not believed I could succeed at. After three years of procrastination, I finally ran for class office and then decided to run for National Honor society office as well. I threw myself into my AP exams and studied harder then I ever had for them and I made new goals for senior year that will push me outside my comfort zone because I believe that this is the best way for me to find something else I can love. So, what is it that I believe in? I believe in the ability to change and adapt. I believe that there is a positive in every negative. I believe that in any bad or difficult situation one can cope in a way that can result in something positive. I am one of those people who can put their trust in the fact that tomorrow will be a better day; that in times of sadness, desperation, and frustration, things will get better if you are open to change. Even in the lowest points of your life when it seems you have been swallowed whole by whatever it is that ails you, there is a way out. I believe that change is not something to be afraid of, but something to embrace. Change allows us to grow and move forward. Without it, we would never learn from our mistakes or learn what it means to live. This I believe.
This I Believe
July 13, 2010