Shifting the Focus

Melissa - Lauderdale, Minnesota
Entered on September 11, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50

I believe in the strength and beauty that we each possess. Few would believe that statement, as we are far more ready to criticize than have a moment of faith in ourselves.

I am fortunate to have a very dear friend in my life – Ms. Bridget RiverSmith – who is beautiful, creative and passionate in her beliefs. Despite her history of growing up with an abusive father, the resultant life-long struggle with mental disability and the social stigma surrounding it, and the doctors who do nothing more than prescribe the latest drug with which to dull her mind – she has persevered in her search for an effective treatment, become a successful artist and an active advocate for disability rights in the state in which she resides. And yet regardless of all these wonderful accomplishments, she still struggles through each day with her insecurity and self-doubt.

Bridget stayed with me on a recent trip to the city, and in our usual fashion we ended up talking far into the night. She told me, at one point, how much she wished she could be as strong as I am. She sees in me the self-confidence, assurance and beauty that she is certain she lacks. But to my eyes, she is the one with a beauty and assurance, and a deep reservoir of strength, to have made so much out of her life. She has had a positive impact on many people in her local neighborhood, the statewide disability community and touched lives around the globe with her art.

It is easy to put our own lives under the microscope and see our downfalls, to replay in our minds the poor choices we have made, and to spend countless hours worrying over every decision. It is a part of human nature to wallow in our weakness and fears, certain that the world can see every flaw and judge us as fools. But it is only through our weakness and failures that we learn to be strong. It is through perseverance in spite of those things that makes us what we are.

I believe that we all have beauty, if we can open ourselves up to see it. I believe we all have strength, if we can stop focusing on our weaknesses long enough to feel it. I believe we all have great potential, something to strive for each and every day. And if there was one thing I could impress upon each and every person that I meet, it would be this: You are more beautiful than you know and stronger than you think.

This I Believe.