This I Believe

Alison - Sarasota, Florida
Entered on March 20, 2007

I believe in the concept of mind over matter.

I am twenty-one years old. If I was a cat, I would have already frittered away my nine lives ten-times over. I have lived on 3 continents; I have seen the inside of mental hospitals; I have been a mother and a lover; I have been a savior and a nightmare; But, I, unlike so many people, have LIVED.

I was born wild, independent, stubborn and defiant. When I was a young child, my natural sweetness and intellect masked these defects. I was loved and confident; at peace with myself and my world. Unfortunately, like everyone else, I had to enter adolescence. Adolescence is an awkward and emotional time for the best of us. For me, it was a trip to hell.

I rebelled against everyone and everything that I had ever known. I drank, stole cars, failed school, and even — as my brother so incredulously remembers — got kicked out of an entire country.

After I got thrown out of my study-abroad program, I realized that I had become a force that I no longer recognized. I wanted my childhood self back, but I had no idea how to coax her into existence. So I attacked the problem with determination; and, in my typical way, with reckless abandon.

It has taken me 4 years and endless heartache to change myself. But I did it. I defied my nature and the way I wanted to be. I tempered my wildness, squashed my bullheadedness, and worked hard. Motherhood mellowed me. Education broadened my horizons.

I am a success story despite myself. These days I teach English in a Prep school. I see that my mission in life is to show the troubled adolescents who I teach that they can achieve anything they set their minds to. If I, the ultimate bad-girl; a parent’s worst nightmare; and the quintessential teenage failure; can make something of herself, then so can my students. Anyone can be a high achiever, but it takes persistence and determination.

Sometimes, it also takes someone to make you believe that you can conquer your nature. I was never lucky enough to have this type of resource. But now, I see that the best way for me to atone for my shameful past is to elevate some angry, confused kid who is trying to build towards their future.