This I Believe

Elise - Atlanta, Georgia
Entered on September 5, 2007
Age Group: Under 18

By staying true to myself without being lost in the harmful commotion that teenagers face in every day life, I believe I have to visit the innocent child and sorrowful child that I once was.

I found that little child for the first time in my 7th grade classroom, when my teacher had told the class to close our eyes and try and see in our mind’s eye an image of when we were younger. Could I remember life before pain? Before pressures to change myself into what my friends wanted me to be? Soon, an image like a photo appeared of me on a chestnut horse. I was three years old. My short legs barely reached the horse’s stomach as my white and pink tennis shoes laid limp across its belly. I had the most content grin on my face, soaring with love of life, and I felt so comfortable within my little body. I connected to that feeling and noticed how much I had changed. But as I kept feeling how comfortable she was, something told me that this little girl would help me feel just as content, and that I’d visit her again.

Because our classroom-writing program is based on us connecting to our past, I’ve visited her and laughed, played and cried with her many times. I’ve replayed with her scenes where my parents argued, their escalated screaming hurting me, because my shouts of “stop yelling!” were barreled over by their own, and remembered when my friend sexually harassed me, the scene of floral comforters and my friend laying on top of me exposed within the expanse of my emotions. I’ve gone back through all of the pain of those times and cried. I’ve connected back as thoroughly with the hurt parts of me as I have with the happy, innocent part of me.

I dug up my stories with all these parts, through the crevices of memories that I would’ve rather left abandoned in my memory, happy for the moment with the convenience of not wanting to remember. But instead I told my stories by revisiting that girl who was intact with her emotions, and by feeling the hurts, she got to tell my story with all the complexities of emotions, and I found at the core of my feelings what I believe all teenagers should know: The pain lying beneath each defensive answer, excuse, lie, or cry for attention, must be dug into deeply and felt entirely. For within our emotions we find truth underneath. Only when faced my deepest, most painful stories would I truly be set free of that deep aching pain that stayed with me, no matter how much I denied it. I’ve learned that my life will never be whole if I don’t get to express who I truly am, and I can only do this if I’m aware of the good and bad stories that evolves from my life, to become connecting with that young, steady innocence once again.