This I Believe

Shannon - Norfolk, Virginia
Entered on June 21, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30

Life is a composite of many experiences and opportunities. I believe that life does not just happen, but is a matter of choice. My pastor often says, “Don’t make choices that will make choices for you.” I am in control of my life and, by choice, determine who I will become and what I will achieve.

I have made poor choices in my life, such as wrong companionships, harmful relationships, and getting a credit card before I had the discipline for it. As a result of these choices, my life became complicated. Baby-mama drama, civil court and restraining orders, and closed accounts restricted me from opportunity and caused me to grow up quickly. Through these experiences, I have learned the value of information in making informed decisions that will improve the quality of my life. It is my prayer, now, that I never have to say, “If I knew then what I know now…,” because of my respect for information, instruction and wise counsel.

I have made great choices, such as returning to school after years of disinterest and disappointment, loving and forgiving, and putting God first. As a result, I have become more disciplined, balanced and gracious toward others. Through these experiences, I learned that I am the source of my happiness. I learned not to choose what is external and immediately gratifying because it is temporary and fleeting; however, I make decisions with the end in mind – – to choose with a purpose what is intrinsically rewarding because it will outlast any tangible reward. I believe happiness is a choice which forever changes me if I continue to choose it. I choose to be happy, no matter what. And because happiness is a choice that I can activate at will, I can return to it again and again, experiencing contentment and pleasure at any time. I no longer wait for people or circumstances to bring me happiness. I choose it.

The greatest decision I ever made was to stop living to please people and to prove for myself what was God’s good, perfect and acceptable will for me. I used to let what people thought of me determine what I’d wear, think and even what my interests were. Expectation after expectation created a whirlwind of animosity and resentment between my parents and me, and my circle of friends. After battling intense bouts of depression and distress, I decided to live for me. Through this seemingly endless battle, I learned the futility of external opinions. I learned that people will often tell me what they think about me and how I live my life, but, ultimately, I am the one who has to live it. My decisions should be ones that I can live with.

I am happy to say that life is not happening to me. I choose what I become and produce. I live a limitless life because I choose to. I believe my life is the sum of my choices.