This I Believe

Alyeska - carol stream, Illinois
Entered on October 18, 2007

I’ve only lived for 17 years, a short amount of time in the scheme of things. What I know of, someone else is likely to know more, what I’ve done, someone’s done five times over, and my list of experience is a scribble on the page of life compared to the lists of others. But even though I can’t say I know of longevity or world peace, there’s one concept I understand; the challenge of taking control.

When I was young my parents joked about my stubbornness. “You should be a lawyer” they told me, because I always pushed until I got my way. To tell me that I “couldn’t” or “shouldn’t” only put fuel on the fire. Still, the aspect of me that my parents cherished most, what caused every argument and sparked every childish fight, was my dedication. “She will be safe,” said my mother “Because she is strong.”

I had never expected to waste so many hours in future years on couches of therapists and psychiatrists, idle and quiet as a doll, staying wherever I was put, speaking only when prodded and pushed. I was letting Them pull the strings for me. The spark and strength that had once been a part of me was dulled and darkened by sadness and self-consciousness. Yet, even as I grew more listless and docile, distress came like a tide to my family. My progress went nowhere. I had lost my stubborn side, but with it went determination and ambition as well. It took a long time for me to realize that I could use this strength for good, and being a passive viewer of my life as it traveled past wasn’t any way to live.

I remember the first day I waited at the kitchen table, expecting to leave any minute for the therapist’s office, and hearing with disbelief my mother declare that, honestly, I didn’t have to go. The joy in that moment wasn’t good luck, or even my mother’s good temperament, but in myself alone. I had done this; I had climbed out of a hole so deep that, at one point, I couldn’t even see the top. At that time in my life I saw this as one specific case and point, but I realize now that this can apply to anyone in any situation. Each of us controls our own life. People that surround us make choices, and life takes its toll, but we are in the driver’s seat. As one can accepts full responsibility for their life there comes a great empowerment, and a desire to become our best selves. I believe each of us should grab the steering wheel and enjoy the ride of life.