This I Believe

Sarah - Norman, Oklahoma
Entered on February 7, 2008

Patrick Henry once said, “I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past.” A person’s past doesn’t define them… or does it? I agree with Mr. Henry, but only to an extent. While judging people because of their past isn’t necessarily just, a person is shaped by their past. I believe we should not regret our past experiences, because they shape us into the people we ultimately become.

During my childhood, I made a few decisions I wished I hadn’t.

“Hey, Sarah! Wouldn’t it be neat to climb up the side of your house and jump off the roof onto your trampoline?” my friends would say.

“Sure! Let’s do it before my mom gets home!” I would tell them (Note to all readers: Mom will always drive up just as it is your turn to jump).

Then there were the classic sibling fights when my sister would grab me and squeeze my arm or my face but I was the one to get in trouble because I hit her for it.

Though I regretted those decisions at the time, they didn’t really haunt me for more than a couple of days. However, once I entered high school, I began to realize what true regret felt like. Don’t get me wrong. I never drank. I never smoked. I didn’t have sex. But that didn’t mean there weren’t mistakes to be made between the bold lines. It’s funny though, because while you’re making a bad decision or a mistake, nine times out of ten you will think it’s the right choice. I never regretted decisions I made until kids at school would confront me about them. I would then get embarrassed and cry and wish I had chosen differently. The regret I had for several of the decisions I made in high school followed me all the way to college. Since then, however, it has become a whole different ball game.

When you get to college, people tend to ask you about your past. Since arriving on campus, I’ve told people about myself and where I come from several times. The more I tell new friends about my past, the more I learn to accept it. However, perhaps what has helped me accept my past the most is the fact that my new friends accept it. They realize my past shaped me into the person I am and, if I had made one decision differently, I could be a totally different person. The people I’ve met encourage me to be myself and understand how I got to be the way I am. I’m content being “Sarah, the happy, strange girl.” It suits me, and I don’t want to be anyone else.

After realizing that my past isn’t something to look back on and regret, I’m a much happier person. I’m proud of my past, because I’m proud of the person I’ve grown to be.