This I Believe

Jonathan - Ranchos Palos Verdes, California
Entered on January 6, 2008
Age Group: Under 18

I believe in freedom from judgment.

I was only a little boy probably seven or eight when I first learned that my dreams had boundaries. I could not believe that I had once been so naïve to assume that when I grew up I could be anything I wanted! Throughout elementary and middle school I created a new set of beliefs to prepare me for the “real world”. These included short-term get rich schemes in order to lessen the time I had to spend in the “system” as well as extremely pessimistic beliefs of 9 to 5s that would become second nature to me. However, during the summer between middle and high school I had an epiphany! I realized that I would much rather be deemed poor and unsuccessful but happy than be deemed successful but an “Average Joe”. This belief has both helped and harmed me during the time that has passed since then. Some of my new beliefs give new passions to the things I love to do such as art and skateboarding. Others are just excuses to not work hard enough. I am slowly realizing that what drives people into mediocrity is not themselves or some desire for money; it’s the fear of judgment from other people. I now view society’s norms and expectations as walls rather than ideals. These walls were put up for the good of society, even I know that; however, I sincerely believe that if I take the road less traveled, I too will achieve happiness. I don’t expect to be rich or famous but I do expect to be happy and have attained a sense of achievement. For most people I sound like a walking cliché, doomed to failure, but I hope that some view me and my ideals as an escape from these walls and a doorway to freedom that had been in our cells this entire time. As I transition out of my enclosed bubbly I slowly realize that more and more people are finding alternate routes to happiness, whether its their small indulgences like playing the guitar or taking a walk, or maybe it’s a lifelong quest like professional athletes and the simple people who own the stores that symbolize all that they love. This is true freedom, not the kind you see on a flag, but the kind you see in the man who couldn’t go to college but is now living his dream of backpacking through the sierras or opening his own restaurant. This is true happiness.