This I Believe

terry - philomath, Oregon
Entered on September 25, 2007
Age Group: 50 - 65

I believe that old dogs can learn new tricks.

My own sense of self-worth wasn’t nurtured, encouraged, or helped along in any way by the people I grew up with. My mother was mired in her own battle of low self-esteem and my brothers all suffered from the same ramifications I did. I didn’t start finding out how it felt to like myself until I was forty years old. In the ensuing eighteen years I’ve worked to try and discover ways to continue expanding my own acceptance of myself. It’s a funny thing to discover at mid-life that you have been submerged in self-hatred most of your life. Even more so to discover that things you experienced, and ideas you formed from those experiences would still be influencing the way you think forty and fifty years later.

When I got sober in 1986 it started me down a path of self- discovery. That path takes turns I never dreamed of and couldn’t possibly have anticipated when I set out on it. The biggest changes in my life however, have come in the last eight years. Ten years ago I met just about the sweetest person on the face of the planet. Two years later we got married. She has nurtured me through the most dramatic changes I ever made in my life. I left my career in corporate America to return to school. After three years of full-time community college I earned a degree in graphic design. I discovered aspects of myself that I never, ever thought existed. I found a person buried underneath all of my layers of denial and self-hatred that has more talent and interests than I could possibly have imagined previous to going back to school.

In the six years since I started back to school I’ve discovered that I am an artist. Not necessarily a great one, but good enough to want to frame my pieces and put them on the wall. More importantly good enough that my wife wants to frame them and put them on the wall. I’ve discovered that I have a talent for writing. I’ve been encouraged by several people with backgrounds in English and composition to pursue my dream of becoming a published author. I’ve seen, and I mean really seen that there is a very likable person inside me. A person that other people value and love. For me to accept that I am indeed someone other people can love is almost overwhelming at times. It’s new, strange and wonderful.

When I hear someone talk about themselves or someone else being old, or set in their ways I have to laugh to myself. I know the truth, at least for myself is this, no matter how set in their ways a person might be, change and growth are always possible. What I tell people is that not only can old dogs learn new tricks; in this old dog’s case my new tricks are my best tricks.

I believe that old dogs can learn new tricks.