This I Believe

Haley - San Antonio, Texas
Entered on October 24, 2007

I believe in looking at the sky.

Life can be unpleasant. I’ve known it since I was young; I knew it when people would spit in my hair. When I was singled out and taunted for the way I dressed or because I wore glasses. It was cruel. And cruelty can ruin anyone’s belief in the worth of standing out, just as it did mine.

For years I was shy. Painfully so, because experience had taught me that hiding, cringing, was the best course of action from someone like me. It was just safer for a frumpy, awkward dork to keep her head down and her mouth shut. Of course, this also made me an easy target because I never stood up for myself. But my philosophy used to be: if they don’t see you, there’s less a chance they’ll hit you.

Someone once told me that people with low self esteem look down when they walk.

Perhaps because meeting the eyes of a stranger was one of my greatest fears; speaking out in class and risking everyone noticing my existence—it was terrifying. Like when I was young: I was convinced that they would do something terrible to me if I drew their attention.

But as time went on I discovered something. People can be kind. And there were small kindnesses throughout my life as I grew up that I will forever be thankful for. Those people who picked up a dropped book or smiled at me or heartily agreed with one of my blushing, shakily spoken answers. They steadily coaxed my eyes to the sky.

Exhilaration, beauty, the uplifting feeling of a “Hey!” from someone you know. Everything you see when you risk looking up. Through this I discovered there was a world beyond my shoes. A world of laughter and goodness and warm fuzzy feelings of happiness.

Later in my life, after I had moved to a new school and grown up a little more, my friends would ask me why I walked looking at my shoes.

Life can be bad, sometimes even terrible. But the good outweighs the bad, and even if it means tripping over those obstacles on the ground that I used to watch so very closely, I no longer look at my shoes when I walk.

My eyes will always be trained on the sky.