Elizabeth - Virginia Beach, Virginia
Entered on December 4, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30

When I was a child, I was afraid. I was teased by my classmates and taunted by my friends, forcing me to shut off. People made me nervous and uncomfortable; the thought of socializing made me blush. I could never look someone in the eyes because it felt too raw and personal. For a while, I retreated from society for the lone fact that someone might come along and hurt me again.

However, every now and then I would tap into my outgoing nature. I remember how wonderful it felt after a particularly long lapse of depression, like I could see again after going blind.

Eventually, loneliness forced me to shed my invisible shell. I remember watching the way my best friend talked to people – so passionately and with vibrancy. The way she became friends with people, including me, was to talk to them as if they were special, and it was genuine. She learned a lot about the world this way, taking an interest in a stranger’s hobbies and ideas even if she had never heard of them before. Knowing that someone cared seemed to make them feel comfortable and confident; this opened the doors to many interesting conversations.

I then made it my priority to think less of myself – my fears, worries, and self-consciousness – and take more of an interest in other people. I found that by showing others warmth and flashing them a nice smile, I felt better about myself than I had in years. The joy that I received from people became my joy, and unlocked my hidden personality, helping me start friendships with many amazing people.

I believe in compassion as a tool to better understanding the world. Without love to guide us, we are empty and internal, always struggling to find ourselves within ourselves, when the answer is in the eyes of a stranger – a future friend. The key to happiness is showing other that compassion is still alive and well in society, and while it is still around, it should be cherished. Love is a reality, not only for some, but for all.