I

Kate - Valdese, North Carolina
Entered on February 28, 2008
Age Group: Under 18

This I believe. This I believe. The operative word in that sentence is “I.” This letter takes up approximately thirty pages of my Webster’s dictionary and also makes up one of the only letters in the alphabet that can be interpreted as a word all on its own. With the letter “I” we are able to spell some of the most important words in our language such as integrity, intelligence, irresistible, and of course, ice cream. However, the letter by itself allows me to express my beliefs, my opinions, my needs, and most significantly, my individuality.

I was born with a mess of fire atop my head, a glorious mane of crimson hair that separated me from the rest of my brown-haired family. When I was a young child, people loved to touch my hair and tell me how pretty it shone, so one of my first words was the word “pretty.” I walked around patting my own head saying, “Pretty, pretty.” Of course as a two year old, this was not my way of being arrogant. It was simply my way of showing people how I was different. My red hair made me feel special, so I embraced it at young age. As time wore on and I grew into a teenager, I began to resent my difference. In high school, the general rule for girls is that the bronzer, the better. As a red head, I’m genetically programmed to have skin the color of Elmer’s Glue. Blonde-haired, blue-eyed sun goddesses constantly surrounded me. No matter how much I tanned, my skin remained pale, which caused me to stick out more than ever. I can recall many occasions when I would go swimming and be completely embarrassed because of my pasty skin color. Media, fashion, and our peers continuously inspire us about what to wear, how to act, and what music to listen to. As human nature leads us, most of us just want to be accepted and liked.

Sometimes people do all they can to become well liked. A wise person once told me, “If at the end of your life, you can say that you have five true friends that love you unconditionally, you are blessed.” The trouble with trying to find real friends revolves around the fact that people are usually afraid of what they don’t know or understand, so people try to dress to impress and be who they think others want them to be, even if it compromises who they actually are. I struggled with this as I grew into my teenage years. I think that something everyone has to experience is the struggle between yourself and the world to find who you truly are. The important thing is that I didn’t lose myself during that process.

Today, I am the person I want to be. Others may see me as less or more than the average, the school system may see me as student #1426, and the world may see me as just another fiery red head. However, I know who I am. I am an individual. I believe in me.