This I Believe

Melissa - Parlin, New Jersey
Entered on March 11, 2009
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: children

I am intuitive. I am creative. I have many strong positions on delicate matters, and 99% of the time, I will not change my mind. I have an interest in politics. I know who I am and where I hope to go in the world.

But I am a girl of only 13 years, so no one listens.

There are a myriad of instances in my life where age prohibits the rest of society from taking me seriously. This I believe: that young age should not be detrimental to a person’s credibility. I believe that we should focus more on what people have to say and how they say it, not on the amount of years they have lived.

I fully understand that life experience comes with age. But who is to say that all life experiences are positive? Why is it thought that the adults in our society are the only ones who can form opinions or carry out plans? Teens, too, have perspectives they’d like to share.

I realize how little influence I have as a teen almost on a daily basis. Perhaps the first time I realized this may have been while I was reading a book in elementary school. It talked about a bunch of kids who had made a difference – giving back to the community, saving lives, starting nationwide programs to fight for a cause. It occurred to me, then, that the only reason they were put in place was because someone dared to listen. Some adult said, “Hey, that’s a good idea,” and they helped a child achieve nationwide success. Imagine how our world would be different if children were given a say in society. If every adult stopped to listen to just one child, an innumerable amount of great ideas would spring forth, like a well, and knowledge would blanket the entire Earth. Adults do not need the extra help, but for a child to be taken seriously, they need the endorsement of someone 18 years or older. Why does age define us so?

I know that as I gain more years, my beliefs will become more accepted – though most of these beliefs will stay the same, perhaps some will change as I grow older. However, one belief I will not let go of is the principle that a person should be judged by what they have to contribute, not the date on their birth certificate.