It was my fifteenth birthday.
No one remembered me on my special day-my locker was bare of balloons, no one sang to me in the hall, and my arms were empty of gifts. I was invisible at school to everyone. After all, I was just the nameless new kid-totally unsure of myself, totally awkward, and totally alone.
The day that should hallmark happiness complete with gifts and loving remembrance of who I was in full vibrancy of my youth was instead characterized by eating lunch alone in a bathroom stall, waiting for a sign that I mattered…
And finding myself completely alone. My fifteenth birthday was the icing on the cake of a life already filled with depression and confusion; this birthday marked my lowest point, when I was sure my allotted piece of life couldn’t get any more bitter tasting. Some birthday cake.
After days of self pity and waterworks and being convinced I wasn’t worth anything, there was a package for me at the door. I read my name in the cutest handwriting and the return sender: Summer Evans.
Summer was my cousin-more accurately, my idol. She had it all-brains, beauty, talent…and of course she never felt unsure, awkward, or alone. As I opened the package I was completely shocked to read her card, describing times she had struggled with those very feelings. Tears flooded my eyes and I began to wake up to reality. I was not alone. I had a wonderful family that cared about me deeply, and a God that knew me and loved
me. I began the painful process of self discovery and started on the narrow road to happiness.
Today is my eighteenth birthday.
I’m walking to meet my family for dinner-little do I know that there is a surprise party waiting for me. The sea of faces on BYU campus all seem to be smiling at me, maybe because my jaw is still hanging open at the thought of where I was three years ago on this day. I smile back and remember the miracle that has taken place in between.
Summer’s simple gift characterized a pivotal change in my life. Through her example along with many others, the help of my family, and God, I was able to overcome the overwhelming depression and feelings of loneliness that permeated fifteen years of my life. Although the process was much longer than reading an inspiring birthday card and filled with pain indescribable, this I have discovered, and this I believe: the worth and impact of each seemingly insignificant life is immeasurably valuable-even in the case of one little girl of billions, eating her allotted piece of “life cake,” remembered on her birthday.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.