When I was small enough to be unaware of incredulity, I believed I was born to do something great.
The earth was home to millions of people in pain, who could not run outside without fear of being blown to pieces, or who could only wish for a full meal or warm bed. I wanted to be their guardian, an angel sent to ease their suffering and whisper in their ear, reminding them that hope truly did exist.
Back then, I thought I could save the world from its own peril. Years later, I could barely save myself.
Launched into my preteen, and then teenage years, I laughed at my silly notions of becoming a person that could foster change. I was awkward, physically and emotionally, leaving myself to conclude that not only was I incapable of helping humanity, I would ceaselessly stumble through life, even to the day it ended.
Years passed of struggling to conquer my obstacles of schoolwork and social acceptance, and I remained a dormant force, fooled into submission by my own inner voices. As a child, I had dreamed in bright colors, but the magnetic murmurs of fear and failure twisted my optimism into drab gray and black. Self-doubt replaced my desire to change the world, wickedly taking its place in my heart and casting my hopes into obscurity in the process. There was no use in hoping. I was me, and no one needed me. It would benefit the rest of the planet, I believed, if I simply stayed out of the way.
When my best friend passed away from cancer, I was forced for the first time to watch in awe as someone who faced death head on still hoped for the best. Drained by rogue cells and treatments that sapped her of her strength, she remained brilliantly resilient, hoping, and completely trusting that whatever happened would be for the best. Even after she took her last breath, her efforts did not go unnoticed. Hundreds of people arrived for the funeral, weeping for the loss of a saint. How could it be, I wondered, hot tears blinding my vision, that a simple girl, body ravaged and worn, could make such an impact?
I grew because of her example, and I was rewarded with a newfound understanding of what it meant to hope. I began to realize that my dreams for the future were always in sight, no matter how dark the prospects might initially seem. I was a weak creature - all humans were. But that did not mean I should not want to be who I was, or not believe that I had the potential to help people. Time passed, but eventually, my transfiguration was complete - with the encouragement of my family, the pursuit of new experiences, and the truth of my faith, I once again stood strong.
I often find myself amazed at how I have changed. It was when I began to discover myself as a whole person, worthy and deserving of a chance to pursue the good things of life in total sincerity and enthusiasm, that I altered my future. That is when I found worth in myself and in my dreams, never ceasing to better myself but still accepting of my imperfection. As someone who has been swept away by oceans of negativity, I can tell you that it is necessary for all people to have faith not only in each other, but also in the goodness of themselves.
I am seventeen now, only a year from college and the start of a new chapter in my life. I frequently think of my friend and wonder if she’s proud of me and how far I’ve come. Like her, I do not know if my dreams will become a reality. I may never be able to rescue a starving girl trapped in a war zone or find an orphaned boy a safe and loving home.
But it is enough to work hard, accept myself, and have faith, no matter where I am in life or how far I may seem from my aspirations and the people I want so desperately to protect.
I choose to hope.