What Do I Believe?

Lily - New York, New York
Entered on May 28, 2008

I’ll admit it. People think I’m a know-it-all, especially at school. It isn’t like I don’t have friends. I guess I’m curious as well as interested in the topics we discuss at school. I question how things are, and why they became that way. In fact, I question just about everything. Questions and I have a long history together.

I believe in asking questions.

Ever since I learned to talk, people—my teachers, my late grandfather, and my parents—were showing and telling me that questions were good. According to them, questions show that someone is actively listening and truly involved. Their encouragement taught me that questions have power.

One day, several years ago, my mom and I were preparing dinner.

“Mama, I have a question,” I announced.

But then I backtracked, “Actually, never mind.”

My mom asked me what my question was.

“I don’t want to say it,” I said shamefully.

She reminded me that I could ask her anything.

“But it was stupid!”

“There is no such thing as a stupid question,” she said defiantly.

My mom taught me something that day: people shouldn’t be afraid to ask any question. I vowed to live by her advice.

Once, in fifth grade science class, I raised my hand. Kate, the teacher, knew what was coming.

“I have a question,” I said.

“Yes Lily, of course you do. But that’s old news,” she replied, smugly.

“So can I ask it?” I went on.

“No!” she said jokingly.

I asked my question anyway. From this experience, I drew a conclusion: some people won’t understand that questions aren’t a joke to me, because they aren’t close with them like I am.

Questions help me get involved with people. By asking questions, I stay in touch with friends and get interested in the lives of people I don’t know.

For instance, a couple months ago, I got a phone call.

It was my best friend. She was in a fight with a friend, and distraught. “Whoa! What happened?” I asked. She explained.

“Are you okay? Why do you think he said that?” I questioned.

At the end of our conversation, my friend told me that I always helped her understand a conflict.

I thought about that. How did I help her? And then it hit me. By asking questions, I wasn’t just trying to get information from her, I was helping her analyze her problems too.

I ask questions for many reasons. I ask them for reassurance, to make sure I’m right in school. I ask questions in order to stay informed. I ask them to show strength, to show I’m involved and interested in what a person is saying, to comfort a worried friend and help her realize why something happened. It is for these reasons that I believe in asking questions.