This I Believe

Shaina - Lake Worth, Florida
Entered on October 8, 2006
Age Group: Under 18

At birth human beings are blank, pure canvases. With time, this canvas slowly becomes filled with colors of various hues, tones, and mediums, sometimes meticulously stroked on, other times carelessly splashed onto the edifice. By the end of one’s life, the image on their canvas mirrors their accomplishments, their mistakes, and the style of their life. For, though this assertion is exceedingly broad in its scope and slightly contradicts the nature versus nurture debate, the following I believe: An individual’s experiences, both positive and negative, make them who there are. The memories of such experiences are the most powerful tool an individual will ever possess.

The good experiences, hopefully in abundance, are the one’s that encourage us and whose memories provide a haven of happiness to reminisce on in later years. When I came home from the hospital after getting my tonsils and adenoids removed at the age of four, I can still recall my joy at the sight of seeing the most beautiful, perfect bicycle- complete with streamers and a shiny horn – waiting for me in my room. I still remember my complete awe of the richness of history and the far reaching depths of science and discovery when I visited New York’s Museum of Natural History with my family at around seven years of age. I can easily retrieve an accurate account of the days both my brother and sister were born. The first day of middle school and high school can still be somewhat replayed in my mind, though the first day of kindergarten has somewhat decayed with time. And how could I ever forget all of my positive experiences associated with soccer, from the moment of absolute pride and euphoria achieved after scoring an important goal to the fun experiences the sport has generated for me, such as traveling to a national tournament in California. Then there are the little memories, such as playing the imaginary game of Leprechaun with a childhood friend in her great big backyard, to helping my mom make homemade pancakes on the weekends (an event that has not occurred for many a year). These memories were not elaborate, but as the MasterCard slogan goes, they were priceless. In recounting my happy memories, my serotonin levels elevated by pleasing nostalgia, more and more beloved memories arrive, and I find that, while way too numerous to record, all of them have contributed in some way to make me who I am today.

Then there are the bad memories, or should I say, the seemingly bad memories. Though I was frightened and embarrassed when I fell off a cliff skiing in Canada, I later returned to the slopes with more perseverance than ever, as a negative experience had given birth to a positive drive of self-correction and betterment. Human beings actually grow the most out of what they deem “bad memories,” an assertion biographies of success stories worldwide can attest to. I recall practicing every day at juggling a soccer ball when my brother, who had been playing soccer much longer than me, scorned me for my lack of skills, and can proudly say that quite soon I was able to juggle well over twice his record number. At the age of around six, I learned that people can be cruel when the ostentatious swelling of my eyelid incurred from a wasp bite, solicited the stares of about every single passerby in Hightstown, North Carolina during what was supposed to be a fun trip to visit my grandparents in the mountains. Simple negative experiences, such as the humiliation of a young crush being revealed or falling flat on my chin while rollerblading, have over the years taught me many emotional and physical lessons.

Out of my indefinitely deep well of memories, why I picked the particular instances mentioned in this narrative out of the archives, I truly do not know. What I do know, however, or at least thoroughly believe is that my wealth of memories and experiences make me who I am, and, indeed, I am a very rich girl.