This I Believe

Kathleen - toledo, Ohio
Entered on May 24, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent”

– Eleanor Roosevelt

I believe that Eleanor Roosevelt was right: I had the power to control how I felt.

I was a model student, active in athletics and plays while maintaining A’s and B’s. Only my diary knew that by 7th grade I contemplated suicide on almost a daily basis. I fought the desire to kill myself with guilt for thinking about such an action. I soaked my comforter with tears of judgment about my parents’ parenting and closed my eyes to the idea that my parents loved me as much as my brother and sisters.

I remember being 18 and taking the ACT test. I usually hated the drab stories that seemed to go on for pages about nothing that would interest a teenage girl. Before I began, I decided that I was going to control my emotions and trick myself into believing that I was having fun; as if it was Friday night, and I was out dancing at the downtown Cleveland clubs with my friends. The test went by smoothly, and I actually enjoyed taking it. When I put down the pencil, I was energized by power. I was awakened by the knowledge that I could control how I felt. The illusion of sadness could be replaced by the illusion of joy. I used that knowledge to turn over the empty glass and decided to always see it full.

Depression was replaced by highs. It got to the point where I pretty soon didn’t know anymore if I was really happy, or if I just told myself I was happy.

My freshman year at Kent State included a winter tubing trip with other students. After many times climbing and sliding, I decided to rest at the top of the hill. I stared at the blue sky scattered with cumulus clouds, and before I realized it, I was smiling. This overwhelming sense of joy seemed to run marathons throughout my body, and I wasn’t going to try to stop it, and I actually didn’t try to start it. I believe I experienced bliss.

Controlling how I felt didn’t make life any better. I thought too deeply into my parents’ decisions, glances, and words, interpreting them to mean something that wasn’t even true. I let myself think I was happy whenever anything challenging came along, and I felt stale from forced smiles. When I let myself go, let myself float into the air and breathe in the sun, for the first time in a while I felt life.

After returning to my roots of much contemplation, I determined that I didn’t want the control anymore. I released the power and felt free; I had become childlike by finally escaping adolescence. Eleanor Roosevelt’s words were right by definition, but not as a way of life. Like many good things in life, it was best when taken in moderation. This, I still believe.