Growing up, I lived in a shabby two bedroom trailer with my mom, my brother and sisters. All four of the kids, including myself, had to share one cramped bedroom. I went to school, my hair long and tangled. I wore hand-me-down clothes that didn’t fit or match. I envied the kids who had fine clothes and combed hair. I wanted nice clothes, a cute haircut, a new lunch box, toys, even my own bedroom. “What you have determines who you are. If only I had all those nice things, I would be content and popular,” I believed. I didn’t know at the time that my beliefs would soon change.
When I was almost eight years old, my dad got custody of me. I moved in with him and enrolled in a new school. The summer before school started, my Grandma took me shopping. She bought me new dresses, pants, socks, shirts, purses, and shoes. I even got a hair cut from a qualified stylist. On my first day of school, I wore a red and white teddy bear dress, a matching book-bag, pale lacey socks, and glossy, new, black Mary-Janes. I continued to get anything I wanted, including clothes, shoes, jewelry, and toys. I piled my collection of stuff in my all-to-myself, commodious bedroom. Once I had anything I could desire, though, I wasn’t as happy as I’d hoped to be. Then, the realization hit me like a brick wall. Having all these things didn’t make me any better-off, make people like me more, nor did it modify who I was on the inside. All the material things in my life couldn’t make me as happy as the non-material things. I finally saw that I cherished memories and people far more than any “thing.” I knew that what I had didn’t matter; it was about who I had, and who I was.
A pocket full of cash could never satisfy me the way laughing so hard I cry does. A new pair of shoes could never make me feel the love I feel when my daddy hugs me. A nice car could never replace my memories of summer and being at the beach with my friends. A day spent with my closest family is more appealing to me than a new purse.
A gold necklace couldn’t ever be as important as the many conversations I have shared in life.
I believe the people, memories, and simple joys in my life make me the happiest. Watching the sunset against the evergreen trees is the most amazing experience. Spending a day on the font porch with my Grandparents, drinking lemonade and talking about politics makes me happy. Sleeping over at my best friend’s house and staying up all night laughing is one of my favorite things in the world. I believe I now understand that the best things in life are free.
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