This I Believe

Annemari - Flagstaff, Arizona
Entered on September 7, 2006

I believe in believing in myself. I have streak of independence that is as wide as the Colorado River during flood season. It gets in the way sometimes, and it’s been tested.

I grew up as an only child, but that doesn’t mean that I spent my childhood alone. Instead, I learned to cultivate valuable friendships with diverse groups of people, have an open mind, and embrace differences. After all, if everyone were the same, the world would be a very boring place! I also learned to like myself, cherish my family, and seek and find the inner peace that the land provides. I was lucky enough to grow up in Arizona,, a place where the natural beauty is constant and absolutely amazing. I’ve lived in and traveled to many other places, but I always compare them to and happily return to my native Arizona.

At 16 years of age I survived when a lot of folks wouldn’t have, and as a result of that, I earned a badge of honor. I get to have my freedom on four tires, and it is definitely not the drag everybody says it is. Sure, there are barriers, such as curbs, loose gravel, and stairs. Those are the things that are relatively easy to get around. Harder to handle, especially for an extroverted type like me, are the attitudes of the general public. Sometimes people seem to have trouble interacting with me because they assume that I have nothing to say. They’re wrong. It’s because of this that I’ve learned to depend on myself. People are often surprised how well I get around, at how independent I am. The truth is-why shouldn’t I be???

Today I’m 25, a pet parent, a daughter, a photographer, a new graduate student, and aspiring park ranger. I have worked in four national parks and one state park, and am the proud owner and operator of an awesome titanium wheelchair with blue spokes. Self-pity? I don’t think so.

At Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, I was privileged to have views of amazing beauty out both of the front and the back doors. I aLso had the privilege of living absolutely, completely, totAlly alone for the first time in my life. I won’t kid you- it was very frightening, at first. Sometimes things happened that reminded me exactly how alone I was; such as the time I accidentally locked myself out of my house, or ended up terrified, frozen, and screaming on the rAmp of my vAn.

But it’s made me a stronger person. I grew to not only appreciate my solitude and independence, but prefer it. I almost feel a closer connection with nature when I’m alone, although I love to shAre the experience with others. I cherish my independence, but also love to meet and befriend many people of different cultures And nationalities. At the end of the day, when there are magnificent sunsets that paint the western sky in myriad shades of pink and orange, it’s this I believe: I’m comfortable alone.