This I Believe

Jeremy - 20052, District of Columbia
Entered on September 15, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: setbacks

I believe that staying positive and upbeat, even when facing tough obstacles, is a necessity in life.

I was 14, living the good life of a normal eight grader, when my English teacher, Ms. Zimmerman assigned us The Bell Jar. I had heard rumors that The Bell Jar, in the words of my oh so bright older cousin Michael, was just a stupid women’s book, so I was a little skeptical. But I loved reading. I loved the prospect of connecting with an imaginative character so different from myself. I loved escaping my own mundane reality and being engulfed into the authors one.

The Bell Jar was everything I had anticipated; Sylvia Plath had this great ability to make Esther’s pain seem so real. By the time I got to page 240 though, I started noticing something very peculiar. As I read the words on top of the page, they appeared as if there were no spaces in between them. I couldn’t focus on one word without seeing the word right next to it. The next day, I approached the New York Times. The same problems started happening again; suddenly thoughts started popping in my head. Am I mentally insane? Would I ever be able read normally again? Something that was so dear to my lively hood was gone.

With loads of reading homework to be done and my parents thinking my problems were just a nervous habit, my head began to spin even more. Life seemed so pointless, what was I going to do. Then I told myself, relax, you can get through this, just stay strong.

From that moment, I started to concoct ways to make reading easier for me. I tried everything, from reading with one eye closed in the dark to watching TV for 15 seconds and then attempting to read for 15 seconds. After countless hours of experimenting, I finally found that two methods helped me, reading early in the morning and reading with a pencil under the words.

So each day, I had the same routine. Go to sleep at 9 PM, wake up at 5 pm, eat my favorite cereal, Frosted Flakes, and then I would do my homework. Even though it killed me to miss the Yankee game every night, it was a sacrifice I was willing to make.

That trimester, I didn’t miss one assignment or even one day of school. After three months my problems still continued and something had to be done. So I begged my mom to take me to the eye doctor, hesitantly she agreed. It was there I was diagnosed with a severe case of astigmatism, which affected my ability to focus on individual words at a time. Today, I am almost completely cured.

I can’t guarantee what’s going to head my way and knock me down, but I can guarantee that I am going to get right back up, brush my shoulders off, and fight strong. This is why I believe, when facing adversity; the resiliency we show defines our character.