This I Believe

Stephanie - North Miami Beach, Florida
Entered on October 10, 2006

I’m sixteen, and I’m crazy. Well, crazy for my generation, that is. I’ve never been to a dance club, I enjoy school, and I gallivant around America, competing in acting tournaments with friends across the nation, instead of lying in bed and watching MTV like a typical American teenager. It’s interesting to see how my tastes have changed: from Nick Jr. to the WB, Barbie campers to driving on my own, juice boxes to Starbucks. But, as I’m getting older, I feel like I’m being forced to start questioning everything bigger than just likes and dislikes. A friend asks me if I truly believe in my religion. My parents want to know what morals I really stand up for. A little boy asked me how many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll pop? That’s when it hit me. Beliefs are confusing.

Recently walking through my neighborhood, I came across a playground. Ready to go and mull some problems over on the swings, I started my way across the sand, but a sign caught my eye, “Playground for Ten and Younger, Please.” Standing at 5’2”, I’m not that much bigger than a ten year old. Since when am I not allowed to play? Who decided the dividing age between child and adult? I feel like I’m being forced to grow up before I’m ready. I’ve always believed in playgrounds, in the swings and the laughter and the wind in the trees; but now, I’m not allowed to. It’s daunting to realize that the decisions I am forced to make now, like my choice in beliefs, have the capability of affecting my life forever. I think I’ve discovered the true problem here.

My entire world is changing around me. When I was younger, whatever was happening to me was the most important thing in the world. I gave money to beggars and didn’t think twice. I trusted the clouds to make animal-shapes in the sky, the ground to catch me when I fell dizzily from spinning, and my mother to call me outside whenever she spotted a rainbow in the sky. I feel like I shouldn’t believe in these things anymore. I’ve learned in school that a rainbow is nothing more than a prism of light, with no grinning leprechaun attached at the end. My mother still gets so excited when she sees a rainbow, but now, I’m afraid to. I want to jump up and down with her, squinting my eyes to find the end of the colors. I know in my heart that rainbows are nothing more than a trick of the light, but I also believe that they are magic. I ask myself whether I’m ready to accept the fact of science, ready to let go of something I’ve believed for so long. And the truth is, I’m not.

So, I’m sixteen, and I believe in rainbows and playgrounds. I believe in the memories they’ve left me, and the future times I’ll spend with them. Plain and simple. And nothing can stop me from believing. Nothing will ever stop me from believing, not even my crazy generation.