This I Believe

Eugie - Bainbridge Island, Washington
Entered on March 11, 2007

THIS I BELIEVE: I believe in the power of words.

At age fourteen it’s hard for me to put my belief into words. My mind is going crazy with all the hormones and pressures of school pushing down on it. I live on an island where there is very little tolerance for a screw-up. And a C has always been regarded in the same light as a D or an F. I live on an island where friendships end as quickly as they form, and to keep up with day to day news you must constantly be talking. I live on an island where everyone knows everything about everyone. I have always been fine with this, but last year it became increasingly hard to deal with the closeness of my small island home.

It was last year that I entered Middle school. It was last year that the tensions and drama of the teen years started to seep into everyone’s awareness, and when rumors and clicks and all those High School clichés started to come true. It was last year that I really saw what I believe. I believe in the power of words.

With all the stress that I was feeling I took solace in one class, and one teacher. English with Anne Kundtz. It was she who helped me start writing poetry, and she who encouraged me when I thought I had lost it all. When we started the poetry unit in her class I knew it was something special. There was nothing formulaic about her assignments, and she encouraged every last one of us to put our feelings into our words. She read us poems by Mary Oliver, and took us into the field during the spring to write. During her class I explored the deepest reaches of my mind, and dug out old feelings that I’d forgotten long ago. I was inspired to lie in my hammock late at night and watch the stars come out. I was inspired to feel, and I wrote all my feelings into poems, and those poems ended up being the very thing that got me through some of the hardest times in my life so far.

All through the year, even after we’d finished the unit, I kept writing poems, because I felt the power they had over me. When I got my thoughts and feelings out in an articulate, artful way, I was able to see all that was happening in my life more clearly. When the stress of school and friendships got too much, I was able to write it out, show it to Mrs. Kundz and go to my next class feeling refreshed. I slept better at night, and my schoolwork improved. I stopped feeling like a slack off, a screw up, I had a place where I finally excelled. And though my poetry I got into other arts.

I don’t see what a greater gift than that of confidace is, and writing gave me that. So I believe in the power of words.