Spare the Change

Brianne - Mt. Morris, Illinois
Entered on November 15, 2012
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I believe in being the person I want to meet someday.

The old adage that tells us to be the change we want to be in the world holds very true to my own beliefs. The campus is crawling with messages exclaiming that we should never change who we are because we are already beautiful. While this sentiment is sweet, and will bring a smile to my face on my worst days, I cannot help but feel a dissonance within every fiber of my being. This inspirational message, scribed in chalk, is unrealistic.

I had a tragic youth when I was a child; at least, that was my view then. I grew up in a typical alcoholic, dysfunctional home. We had no money because my father drank it all away. My mother went to school full-time while working full-time. My safe haven was within fantasy stories. Puberty turned me into a self-loathing, self-deprecating whiner.

Nothing was my own fault. I did drugs, but that was my sister’s fault. She taught me how to sneak out and smoke pot. I got raped, but that was my father’s fault. He taught me that all men were evil and only would be interested in me if I showed them a little skin. I died, but that was my mother’s fault. She was never home, so I never had that positive influence to teach me not to kill myself. I got pregnant, that was my boyfriend’s fault. He should have realized that leaving a condom in his wallet for over a year would cause it to fail. Then, my daughter was born.

My worldview began to shift. How could something so beautiful come out of something so hideous? She was the epitome of love, purity, intelligence, enlightenment, charity, and wonder. I realized that she needed me to change. The drugs had been easy to quit. I stopped when I found out I was pregnant. How, though, was I supposed to change into the person I wanted to be?

I made a conscious effort to grow into the person I always wanted to be. I joined the Army because I thought that was the only way to really straighten my life out. I got a divorce in order to begin rebuilding my self-esteem and keep my children from seeing the tragedy I lived through. I went back to school in order to better provide for my growing family. I joined the theater, which helped my self-esteem immensely. Through all of these experiences, and others, I began to change into a person my children, my mother, and I could be proud of. I began to take responsibility for my actions.

If I were to have remained static, perpetuating the selfish acts I partook in as a child, I never would have accomplished the many achievements I have thus far. I would have missed the sound of my children laughing, or telling me they love me. I would never have come to enjoy my own company. Now that I am willing to accept that change is instrumental in creating the environment I want for myself and my family, I am able to enjoy life as it is supposed to be lived. I am finally the kind of person I would enjoy meeting someday.