This I Believe

Gabrielle - Chicago, Illinois
Entered on March 4, 2008
Age Group: Under 18

My life thus far has been full of travel and adventure. Everything I’ve ever done, all of my experiences, as well as the numerous stories and photographs that come with them, are a way of thanking my grandfather. A way of honoring his effect on me, because nothing in my life would ever have been possible without him.

My grandpa is not like most. He’s young, stylish and recently bleached his hair blonde. The stories he carries with him are ones the never fail to inspire me, no matter how many times I’ve heard them. He has been on canoe trips up the Amazon, and done the whole hostel thing in Europe and while everything amazes me, the most fascinating tale he has is one he’s never even told.

His true charm is in the way he carries himself, the way he greets every opportunity presented to him, and the way I’ve never heard him say the word impossible. In fact, the most important words he’s uttered to me were brief, but influential, and have impacted my life in the severest of ways.

“It’s all in the first step, but the second one always counts,” he said to me one afternoon, upon concluding yet another marvelous tale. As I pondered the true meaning of his comeback, I realized how significant those words were, and they soon became my own personal mantra. I do not believe I could better summarize my beliefs because in a way, this expression is true about everything. Everything in life I’ve ever done. These words, their meaning, they are always with me. Whether I’m pushing myself to do better at something I’ve already begun or telling myself to dive into a new experience, this expression silently guides my every action. Believe me when I tell you, climbing up the Grand Canyon was not exactly easy. There were times where I told myself to turn around, before I hit the bottom. I mean hey, the first pit stop was after a mile! Why go on?

The answer truly depends who you ask, but for me, because I believe in all that I do, I value my each and every one of my steps. I knew that I had to go on, I shouldn’t quit and it would be worth it. Returning to the top of the canyon without hitting the bottom would have saved me some sweat, let’s not kid ourselves. However, had I taken the easy way out, I would have left the canyon with regret.. Because I recognize and believe in the power of my footsteps, I have built myself a character that is open to victory. A personality that my grandfather admires, and more importantly, a life that will be full of first steps in risky directions, followed by second ones that will make my first steps proud. And the most beautiful thing about it is that my very last step will be my grandpa step, a step that regrets nothing from its past and can’t help but look back and thank the world for its many opportunities which I’ve never hesitated to take advantage of. This I’ve experienced, this I’ve been taught, and this I believe.