This I Believe

Alexander - Gig Harbor, Washington
Entered on November 6, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: change, fear

Stepping Out of the Shell

I have always been somewhat of a loner. I never really made an effort to put myself out there to meet new people or try new things. I guess this somewhat stems from a fear of change.

Throughout my entire life I’ve moved around from state to state, across the country, and even out of the country. You’d think that experiencing all of this change would keep me open to the idea of it, but it never has. It entails leaving the people that you know, your friends, family if they live there, and all of the memories that you’ve built in that place. Whenever we’d move, I’d make new friends, and we’d just move again to a new place, forcing me to start all over again. It takes a toll on morale and spirit knowing that no matter how hard you try to put yourself out there, it’ll all be lost when you move permanently to a new place.

When I first moved to Washington I had completely given up on socializing, thinking, “What’s the point? I’m just going to move again anyways.” But throughout my high school life I’ve slowly been able to come out of my shell, and shed the fear of change.

Fear keeps you locked up inside yourself, unable and unwilling to do anything but be quiet and take what comes at you without objection. But no one can live in that fear without it having mental and physical ramifications on you, and perhaps others. Once I started to realize this, I began to start trying new things: talking to people I didn’t know, joining conversations without being asked to, going to and enjoying new places. I found that it is hard to believe that something as little as fear can stand as a barrier between you and all of these things.

Fear has kept a lot of people barred in from true happiness throughout history, but there are those few that choose to stand above it and experience what it’s like to step out of that shell, not only for them, but also for others like them. Martin Luther King Jr. did just this with his historical speech at the Lincoln Memorial in 1963. For decades African-Americans had been ridiculed and kept caged in by fear. MLK voiced these fears and the hopes that him and his people had for the future.

The colonists that founded this country also lived in a state of fear due to the oppression of the British. Writing the Declaration of Independence was a step forward to changing that fear into a drive to free themselves. Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation was also used to change the lives of many people, freeing the slaves.

Fear puts limits and boundaries on your life that you do not want there, but are unable and sometimes unwilling to change. It’s like an addiction; the first step to curing it is to acknowledge it. Only then can you step outside of those boundaries and see what it’s like on the other side.