When growing up, one feels that the world is a perfect place. Days come and go in a world that has few responsibilities and even less worries. During this time of perfection in my life, no one personified this ideal more than my parents. But, at this very early age, I quickly realized that the world was not perfect, rather the world was full of flaws. I knew my parents had been fighting for years. Often, their yells would breach my closed bedroom door and find their way to my young ears. The yells bothered me, but my parents told me that is was a minor disagreement and everything was all right. When I was eight, my parents told me they were getting a divorce. “What do you mean you’re going to live apart?” I would ask. They tried to explain that they weren’t getting along and needed time apart, but this message fell on deaf ears. “How was this possible?” I would wonder to myself. For the first time in my life, my world was not the utopia I had dreamed it to be, but I hoped that one day it would return to its former state.
For a while after my parents separated, I felt a feeling of wonderment, curious of what my future held. But then came a feeling of gloom when I realized that my parents would never settle their differences. During this time I matured quickly. I didn’t have time to believe that the world was perfect as most young people do but instead had to become a realist. I also began to hold my emotions inside and hide them from the outside world. My problems were my problems alone, and I would deal with them myself. I became very self-reliant, preferring not to burden others with my problems. Often I struggled living in my mixed up world; dealing with the constant change in where I lived, the rules I was to abide by, and my parents bringing home strangers who acted as if they were my best friend. My childhood was less than perfect, yet I hoped that my problems would subside.
Although my parents still do not get along, the future looks bright. The world is not perfect but it is a good place. If you believe it is a glum place where nothing good can happen then most likely you will see only the faults that fall before you. If, on the other hand, you believe that life will always work out for the better, as I have learned to do, then the world will seem a beautiful place with endless possibilities for happiness. I’ve learned to work through the bad and through this ordeal have become a stronger individual. I learned not to let things bother me too much and that eventually whatever problems do arise will get better with time. As French author François de la Rochefoucauld once said, “Hope is the last thing that dies in man; and though it be exceedingly deceitful, yet it is of this good use to us, that while we are traveling through life it conducts us in an easier and more pleasant way to our journey’s end.” Those that hope for the better and take the worst in stride are the ones that truly live happy and complete lives.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.