This I Believe

Stephanie - Dallas, Texas
Entered on August 31, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30

Admire these novels, neatly in a row on my shelf: They’re so innocently quiet, bookish, flat. But each page — once opened — is a half-hour, a day, a life of human existence, wild, sorrowful, gentle, companionable, terrifying.

The best thing about friends is the surprises. My early misgivings about my friends have made the surprises that came later grip me deeper. It’s the people I disliked at first who have been the most delightful, the most unselfish, the most grateful for my friendship, the most nourishing to my soul. I believe there’s always more to the story.

People, unlike a row of books, are not finished. I thought when I graduated from college that I might never see some of my friends again. But we’ve met at train stations on other continents and at ridiculous trade shows on this one. There were times I thought I had alienated someone forever with my thoughtlessness, but she still graced me with friendship.

I’ve learned, from getting to know people better, that the thing I assume when I see someone is one of the least likely things to be true.

Some people say to live as if each day were your last. I’ve never cared much for that idea. Life would be so full of overwrought emotion, empty love, gooey grief. Qualities like perseverance, faith, and hope are meaningless without time to prove them.

I’ve learned that the uninvited friends are welcome. The file is the instrument that smoothes. The offense to my dignity is what makes me look inside and question myself. And then I see that my story is not over either. There’s more to me than meets my own eye, and someone else’s ideas about how to live might be better than mine.

When I’m reading a book I love, I read more and more slowly towards the end, because I know that when it’s over I will be almost inconsolable. So it is with my friendships and with my own life. I won’t say the last word; I won’t assume that I have seen all there is to see or that things will be this way forever. I wait to see what more there is to the story.