This I Believe

Kristen - LEXINGTON, South Carolina
Entered on February 26, 2007
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: disability

The Importance of Individuality

What brings wretchedness and affliction to my heart the most is watching an individual bring pain to another by mocking and teasing. I am able to see, and more importantly feel the deep suffering the bully brings to that individual after tearing down their soul while making him or her feel completely worthless. Why do they feel such ridicule is necessary? Every one of us is different, and that is what makes us who we are. No one should ever feel the need to conform to someone else’s wishes; everyone has a right to be themselves. I believe in personal love for oneself and others, called individuality.

What if everyone in this world was alike? What if we all wore the same type of clothes, went to the same college, listened to the same music, and had the same family? Nothing would separate us from one another, making everyday life characterless and monotonous. I am amazed everyday by the differences in each miraculous individual and the flavor each one brings to this earth. We are all equally important, and we all serve a purpose in life.

As a younger teen I had a good friend named Amanda Hancock. My friend Kate and I would go read to her every week and just hangout with her. Amanda had a dangerous case of cerebral palsy, along with being blind and mute. Her mother ate undercooked deer meat while in the first trimester of her pregnancy, not knowing that she was changing the outcome of her daughter’s life forever.

Many saw Amanda as being incredibly different from them, thinking her disabilities made her less important in this world. I could not disagree more. I know that what others saw as

Amanda’s disabilities were, in all actuality, her abilities. Even though she could not see nor walk, Amanda could laugh, smile brightly, and love more than any other person I’ve ever met. Her awe-inspiring personality and love for others made me realize what I was missing in my life. I learned so much from her and her strength, and realized I should always live life to the absolute fullest as well as love others wholeheartedly; after all you never know how long you have on this earth. After a lifelong struggle with her body’s complications, Amanda passed away in late 2002 at the young age of thirteen.

My time spent reading and laughing with Amanda will always be some of the best memories of my life. True, she was distinctively different from me, but I looked up to her so much for those admirable characteristics. The everlasting memories I made with her will permanently stay with me in my heart. I deeply wish that everyone had respected her differences for what they were, and embraced her. She was such an amazing girl to get to know, and there is nothing I look forward to more than knowing I’ll see her again one day. Until then I have learned to respect and love everyone for who they are, not their social status or wealth. I believe in the right to individuality.