This I Believe

Alexandra - Gainesville, Florida
Entered on February 28, 2007

I believe in the importance of language, our ability to use it, and transcend it. Language is the architect for human interaction and understanding. It has allowed stories and knowledge to be passed from generation to generation, and from civilization to civilization. We use language to create our reality, but reality is never limited by language. Everyday we communicate with each other without words. A smile shared with a stranger over a small child’s artwork, or a look of mutual disapproval over a long checkout line. The implications of this are tremendous, these simple forms of communication, without language, reassure me that we are all connected beyond any superficial barrier. What is the connection? I do not know the word to describe it, but I believe it exists.

As I prepare to graduate college and leave behind the last four years of my life to begin a new, and unknown, chapter. I am at a loss to find the words to describe how I feel. Having decided to take some time off in-between undergraduate and graduate studies my friends and family are constantly asking me what I am going to do, and how I feel. I do not only feel happiness or sadness about leaving school, but bittersweet just does not seem sufficient to describe my sentiments. I sat in class one morning, realizing the end of the semester was quickly approaching and again trying to decide how I felt. I turned to a boy sitting next to me who I had seen before but never spoken to. I asked him if he was graduating in the spring and he told me he was. I asked him what he was doing next year and he shook his head and shrugged his shoulders. I realized that both of us are about to enter the world with no clear path ahead, and I knew he understood how I felt, and I understood him. This provided greater solace than any combination of words could. This simple interaction of mutual understanding assured me that even an unknown path is not a lonely one. Four years ago I would have been terrified at the prospect of leaving school with no definite plans, but today I know I am capable of understanding and connecting anywhere I go. Through my connections with others, I have learned about myself.

I do not wish to discount the power of words. Language can help us grapple with the infinite complexities of our experiences. Language is poetry in its many forms, but life is simply too complicated, and feelings are too complex, to be understood with words alone. Yet, I believe we are capable of understanding one another. It is the connection each of us shares that makes language important. College has taught me that life is many feelings and thoughts, all at once, all of the time. No words can ever truly articulate this, but I believe each one of us understands it.