This I Believe

Denise - Winterport, Maine
Entered on September 17, 2007

Growing has had a considerable change on me. Apart from my physical developments, I have noticed that I take in things from my surrounding environment with an eagerness that reflects my hunger to know about the world. The cradle of my development comes from my high school career: from the diversity that exploded once I moved away from middle school. The sea of faces that a passing person may see as my school is not a sea to me, but many raindrops that I have learned to respect as individuals. I have experienced hurt on the faces of friends and it has taught me that hurt is felt by all levels of life on this planet, as is happiness, fear, and hope. Friends, those people who are more than just a face in a crowd, have taught me through experience that all forms of life are worth being respected, from the lowliest earthworm to the mightiest redwood, to the most average of Joes.

Before high school, I had friends, but I never really realized how much they meant to me. They were people I sat with at lunch, people I passed notes to, people with whom I could complain about homework. As I reached that awkward point in which I transitioned from a small school where everyone was in everyone else’s business, to a school of eight hundred, I was certain that I would lose my friends in this “sea”. Amazingly, I gained friends, and respect for things that I didn’t know that I had. One friend I gained, from the next town over, was even eager to listen to me when I didn’t think that I was worth listening to. She invited me out: to peace marches, protests, and even to her brother’s birthday party (despite the humorous fact that she never invited me to hers). She insisted that I join swim team, and when I didn’t, feigned bitterness. She introduced others to me, and I made friends with them. I experienced life between the ages of 14 and 16, filled with passionate rage, humor, frustration, love and happiness. I had never really experienced a equitable sadness until that friend died in a car crash the day after my birthday.

Many people would take this kind of experience as one that would depress them for their entire life. I did not forgive the cosmos for a long time, but one day I realized that because of her, and the friends I made in high school, I have been able to look at things in new ways. Students with disabilities are no longer objects of pity, but human beings. Animals are worth talking to, trees worth hugging, and every breath of air is sweeter than the one before. I gained respect and veneration for others from my interaction with humans. So, when asked, “what do I believe?“, I am confident in my response: I believe that the people you meet are the molds of your soul.