This I Believe

Mike - Inverness, Illinois
Entered on May 11, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: love

When I was little, I used to imagine what life would be like if everybody had a thought-bubble on top of their head. This bubble would tell each person exactly what the other one was thinking or feeling inside. Life would be so easy. We would all know how to relate with one another and would live in harmony. But I do not know what others are thinking, and my perceptions of the world are not broadcast to others either. We are each locked in our own reality, and it becomes a struggle to understand the lives that others live.

I believe that this desired connection with other people is what makes me human. It is easy to walk through the halls of my school everyday without connecting with others. I can pass people and say hello to them. I can discuss homework with my classmates. I can make the same jokes every day with my friends. But in doing all that, I am still locking myself in my own reality and also making myself very lonely. I do not share my thoughts and emotions with others and they do not share with me. The challenge of connecting with others is the challenge of being human and having meaning in life.

First impressions guide our perception of others. Many of the people I know in high school, I know only by my initial perception of them. But it is in hearing others stories and empathizing with their emotions that we connect with others. I believe I need to be vulnerable people, letting others see who we are, in order to connect with one another.

One word to describe the struggle for relationship is awkward. In opening myself up to another person I can end up feeling worthless. And if I give in to this fear of awkward moments, I will never become human through connecting with others. I believe that I need to embrace the discomfort of everyday relationships. Because I believe that the anxiety I feel before an experience, such as meeting new people, is directly related to the satisfaction I feel afterward succeeding in that experience. Growth will hurt and is not always natural. But in retrospect, a period of discomfort has always been necessary to grow with other people.

Aside from embracing the discomfort of relating to others, another method to connect to others is through a common goal. If three people were locked in a room with nothing to do but watch TV, and three people were locked in the room and were told they had to build a TV, the ones with a job to do would connect much easier. The initial uneasiness of connecting with others is dispelled by a common goal to work toward.

While the network of relationships that make up our existence can seem impossible to figure out, I believe that it can all be simplified with one single rule: love. If I live a life dedicated to the love for each and every person I encounter, I will be able to coexist with my fellow man, and even achieve the ultimate goal of connecting with another person. Whether or not God exists, whether or not religion is a sham, I believe the Christian message of loving your neighbor as yourself is what allows us to connect and have a meaning in our lives.

I believe that life is about connecting with my fellow man. I believe that the ultimate goal of humanity is to build a community. Families, social cliques, churches, and countries are all based upon the notion of others living in connection with each other. And if I succeed in connecting with others, I will be fully human.