This I Believe

Claire - Culver City, California
Entered on June 19, 2007
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: creativity, hope

Everyone remembers when they were a little kid, and they believed in the stories they were told, the fantasy of what life could be. Santa Claus, Little Red Riding Hood, Prince Charming, they were so real we could touch them. Eventually we grow up, and succumb to a society that tells us to let go of that childish idea of a storybook ending. But what are we really letting go of? And why must we give up on it entirely? The ability to connect with our imagination is as necessary in adulthood as it was in childhood; it aids us in growing up and finding out who we are, as well as who we would like to become. Since I was a little girl, I have believed in the importance of stories, and they have helped shape my life.

I’ve been immersed in theatre since I was eight years old. I realized at an early age that I not only wanted to hear the stories, but I wanted to tell them, too. Being able to act and portray different characters helps me learn more about who I am. I can play a comedian who makes light of everything and realize through that character that although laughter may seem lost, it can be found in almost every situation. In my theatre class, I sang a song for an audition from the musical “The Last 5 Years” about love and heartbreak. I had just come out of a relationship and I found many parallels with my life. Working on the song in class helped me work through my own feelings. The story of the character helped me move through a tough part of my own story.

At the beginning of my sophomore year in high school, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was scared that my life was about to alter in a way I couldn’t control. I turned to books for a source of comfort and found it in their text. I was able to find solace in someone else’s story instead of losing hope in mine. The stories I sought helped me put what I was experiencing into a clearer perspective. In “The Small Rain” by Madeline L’Engle, the main character Katherine, a girl my age, lost her mother and was experiencing similar feelings to what I was going through at the time. It helped me to see that I was not alone.

I believe that storytelling is a way to remind us that anything can happen if we set our minds to it. Like any muscle, the imagination needs to be exercised, and stories do just that. As we grow up, remembering the importance of make-believe gets harder and harder. Through my acting, singing and voracious reading, I ensure that my imagination always gets a workout. We all have stories, and I believe that my story, placed on the shelf beside Santa Claus, Little Red Riding Hood and Prince Charming makes me who I am today.