This I Believe

Adrian - Santa Monica, California
Entered on June 19, 2007
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: family, legacy

Heritage Carries On

I believe a person’s heritage is the most important part of one’s life. From ancestors to family traditions, these are the true factors that determine who I am and what I represent.

Having European parents and family impacts my life on a daily basis; it affects my daily actions and gives me a certain spin on life many others do not have. By following my family traditions and virtues I look at life in a different way and understand myself in a different way. It helps me dig into my roots and find my true self.

As a child I was brought up in a European fashion. From food to the style of clothing my parents chose for me. Polish is my first language and it automatically separated me from all the kids that already knew English. Having family that only speaks Polish gave me struggles at an early age. It created a language and culture barrier between me and the children at school; “Don’t worry Adrian just try to fit in with the rest of the kids” my parents would tell me. No one to relate to in English was difficult, but rewarding nonetheless. No one to help with homework, lead me to be independent. I had to work and figure things out for myself, which led me to trust in my own judgments and helped me be more confident.

When it came to inviting people over to my house it was even more disastrous. I’d be embarrassed to introduce people to my parents who unlike their parents didn’t speak perfect English or have awkward decorated houses with statues of Polish figures. Even more startling to my friends was my parents thick and hard to understand accent, “Vud you like sam dinner?” they would ask. My cheeks would turn red as I would walk away from embarrassment.

My biggest fear as a child was that others wouldn’t be able to accept or recognize the differences in my family. As I grew older I learned that my family and heritage were special and important to me and it didn’t matter what others thought.

I believe my heritage gives me pride in my country and a unique personality that no one else could take from me. My heritage is like a code that’s embodied within me that represents who I am and what I stand for. I believe my heritage defines me and labels me as none other than Adrian Stepien, the Pole with the awkward family and language, but I couldn’t be happier.