This I Believe

Olanike - Tampa, Florida
Entered on December 13, 2006

Pursuit of Self-happiness

I believe in the pursuit of happiness no matter what the situation is. I believe that the best way to pursue self-fulfillment is by being yourself at all times. I was born three and a half months premature with multiple health issue. So, growing up was very difficult. My parents had to be with me at all times just in case I had one of my sick episodes. My life was very structured and every second was scheduled to avoid any complications. When I was about six years old, I realize I was different from everybody else around me and I wanted to fit in very badly. I was desperate to be accepted by my peers. I set out to defy the odds that were against me. I joined the soccer team and played for six years, although almost every game ended with me in the hospital. I played almost every sport I can think of and I was good at them or at least I tried, I would always say to myself “if a person can do it, well so can I.”

Even with all that, I was still socially inept. It didn’t abate, but rather it got worse when I came here from Nigeria. People constantly taunted me. Kids were cruel. I will get beat up for absolutely no reason whatsoever. At age 14, I was 71 pounds and couldn’t possibly defend myself. I was so depressed that I had to be home-schooled for a little while. My freshman year in high school, I partied endlessly thinking that would make me a little bit more socially acceptable however it turned out to be a disaster because I just couldn’t be myself. I was a walking time bomb. I was so frustrated and felt so much melancholy.

Two years ago, I had plethora life-changing events that happened in the course of a short time, including three major surgeries, my mother being diagnosed of a very aggressive type of breast cancer, my father having a stroke, and my brother being deployed to Iraq. Somewhere and somehow during this tumultuous time, I realized the only person that can make me happy is me. I sat down to find out my strengths and my weaknesses. They have a common denominator, I have a extreme passion to help people and I am very empathetic. Therefore when people disappoint me, it hurts deeply. So, I decided to gather all that anger and disappointments over the years of being so different to something positive by helping people. It has made me extremely happy over the past two years. I volunteer with cancer patients whenever I can and by the year 2012, I will be on my way back to Africa with the Peace Corps. I am planning on going to Ethiopia and Sudan, one of the most dangerous place on earth. Of course, I have a great anxiety over this trip, I am only human. My father thinks I am totally insane and this is just another stunt to prove myself. But I realize it will be the most peaceful, interesting and important event of my life. It will make me deliriously ecstatic to be able to use my experience to help other people who really need help.

After so long I am finally doing things that make me happy. I am true to myself no matter what the situation and I couldn’t care less what someone else thinks about me. I am extremely optimistic about life because I realize that I am different and will never be like everybody else and to be unique by MY definition is the best thing ever. I hope to pass this principle on to many children in the future including my own: that you might not be the best at everything you do, but as long as you are yourself and always pursue self-fulfillment, you will be content with life.