This I Believe

Cheryl - Lexington, Kentucky
Entered on October 18, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30

The entire time I was growing up, I always assumed I would make it big somehow. I was destined to be an actor, a famous artist, or make it on the New York Times Best Seller List with my insightful and brilliantly written novel. I would grow up beautiful, marry Prince Charming, and live in a giant mansion in a life of luxury.

Now, I am twenty-seven years old. I make barely above minimum wage as a leatherworker. I live in a small apartment with my two cats, and my husband, who has Cerebral Palsy.

It was only a decade ago that I spent my nights sleeping on the floor of a charitable friend as a college drop-out, with no job, and no realistic ambitions. Searching for an easy way out, I married an abusive man, and spent the next year daydreaming of suicide… yet another easy way out. After packing what few belongings would fit into a friend’s SUV, I left like a thief in the night, and never looked back.

I spent the next few years working at gas stations and restaurants, never really feeling like I belonged anywhere, like I was adrift through the cosmos with no purpose and no destination. I simply existed in my own perpetual limbo. I had assumed this was the hand that life had dealt me, never understanding that I was the one holding the deck. That was when I met Chris. His warmth, intelligence, and compassion shone beyond his clumsiness and awkward movements. He always had a smile on his face to share, and a gentle way of speaking that could automatically put anyone at ease. I still remember the night we really talked for the first time. Over the course of the evening, he spilled my drink three times, each occasion leaping up with an embarrassed apology to get a towel and a refill. Drink number two never made it into my hands before it ended up on the floor.

It was Chris that talked me into going back to college, as though he had enough strength and courage for the both of us. After two and a half years in school, my GPA is almost a 4.0, and my dreams are attainable, for the first time in my life, instead of being larger than it.

I believe that life doesn’t have to be large to be glorious. The most simple and mundane tasks add up to a larger piece of the whole, and it doesn’t matter how brightly it shines, so long as it does. I don’t care whether I achieve my immortality in the reverence of millions, or if my memory dies with the handful of people who loved me in my lifetime. I care about my husband, I care about providing for my family, and I care about those distinct moments in time which are so joyous and precious that they make your heart want to burst with gratitude. There is no shame in simplicity, and there is no such thing as a “nobody”. We are all somebodies, with our own tiny piece to contribute to the whole. No piece is more important than another. This, I believe.