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My Belief System This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This work has won the Teen Ink contest in its category.

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Everyone believes in something – religion, an afterlife, love at first sight, fate, marriage, destiny, gods, ghosts, etc. For many, these beliefs make up a large part of their lives and their being. In fact, for some, their beliefs define them.

Beliefs have a major effect on today's society. Our life seems almost entirely based on institutions and beliefs like marriage, religion, and fate. With nearly the entire world taking part in some sort of belief system, how is it that an intelligent young woman like me believes in absolutely nothing?

I cannot believe in gods, heaven, ghosts, destiny, magic, or any other non-tangible concept – not because I do not want to, but simply because my mind cannot fathom it. To me, facts are critical. Yet, I would never say that those who choose to believe in faith-based concepts are wrong; rather, they simply do not think like me and are able to maintain faith without proof to back it up. In a way I envy them. I wish for one minute I could believe in something spectacular and paranormal.

As humans, we are constantly changing. Who we were two seconds ago is not who we will be two seconds from now. Every situation, every word, every thought, and every blink changes who we are. This is the part of humanity I find the most fascinating: we are always developing, always growing, ­always evolving.

As a result of this amazing phenomenon, I cannot, and will not, make a long-term commitment such as marriage. In my eyes, these commitments are fundamentally immoral. Simone de Beauvoir once said, “The horror of the definite choice is that we commit not only the self of today but also that of tomorrow.” By giving yourself over to marriage, you are compromising and throwing away yourself as an individual. How can you promise yourself to someone when you have no idea who you will be in five years? You have no idea what you will want or what the other person will want. The only way you are going to last “'til death do us part” is if one of you completely stifles your personal growth.

Hence, the only relationships that last forever, besides those very rare lucky ones, are ones in which one person stops developing him or herself, and instead follows the direction of the other. One remains a flower, while the other turns to gardening their partner. This is no way to live. We each need to be a flower; we each need to develop ourselves to our full potential and grow in whatever direction we want. We cannot prioritize another over ourselves, for if we do, we will soon become their gardener, rather than our own being. I long to be my own ­individual, so the only commitment I will ever make is to myself. I promise to never compromise my growth and independence. I am committed to myself and my development.

People always tell me, “You have to believe in something. Everyone believes in something.” My response is: “I believe in myself.” Although that may not be considered a “belief” per se, it does require faith, understanding, devotion, and everything else your religions and marriages have. Every single day I whisper to myself, “Self reliance, self reliance, self reliance,” usually multiple times a day. Or even, “Ne te quaesiveris extra,” which is Latin for “Do not seek outside yourself.” I am full of substance, possibilities, and burning intensity. I am an individual who strongly believes in individualism.

When a large portion of the world believes the same exact things about religion and fate as you do, you are not unique: you are simply a part of a group. People always say that groups are stronger than ­individuals, that there is strength in numbers. However, I believe the opposite. There is more strength in myself alone than there would be if there were a thousand people just like me. Because I am an individual – rather than part of a group – my thoughts are mine alone. I am not influenced or pressured by anyone but myself, and this creates a refreshing comfort and strength I can only find within. I am my own best friend, and becoming true best friends with myself is probably the thing I am most proud of in my life. No matter what happens, I will always have myself.

All that love and devotion people put into marriage, religion, and all those other beliefs, I put into myself. I put it into my thoughts, my dreams, my work, my writing, my art, my ability to love: my everything.

People turn to beliefs when they feel they have nowhere else to turn, because beliefs justify their ­actions and bring them comfort. I view believing in marriage and religion to be the same as eating an ­entire box of chocolates when you are down: comforting at the time, but unhealthy in the long run. I do not waste my time on comfort foods; instead I ­invest all my love, faith, and strength in myself. Growth and development are what I emphasize in my life. Every day I change and I learn about myself. Infinite possibilities lie ahead of me. I am my own best friend, for I am all I have in this world. I love myself, and I believe in myself.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

This work has won the Teen Ink contest in its category. This piece won the November 2012 Teen Ink EBSCO POV Contest.




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DerienShawn said...
Jul. 9 at 9:51 pm:
I could hardly agree more. I think many people perceive thoughgts, concepts, ideas, and beliefs as their own when, in truth, they are merely adoptions. I've found that many people mistake their ideas/beliefs etc., as original when they simply weigh something they've heard or been taught with prior knowledge that they have and this gives many the illusion of originality and identity. Never surrender your mind and strong faith you have in yourself: it is a rare gift that is dissipating in ... (more »)
 
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