This I Believe

Allison - Knoxville, Tennessee
Entered on May 1, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: tolerance
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One by One We Can Change the World

I find it amazing to know how similar we all are. This is a piece of knowledge that many people never allow themselves to learn. To learn this you have to be willing to come out of your comfort zone in most situations because it is hard for us to befriend or even start conversation with someone who we think is “different.”

I work with a girl, Beth, who recently got married. Her new sister-in-law, Meghan, has an obvious mental retardation; however she can still walk, talk, and even carry on a conversation. I would see her a lot when she would come in work to see Beth. She is really loud and talks to everybody. I cannot think of a single time that Meghan has ever come into work and walked out the door without talking to every employee and hugging most. It would just absolutely break my heart to see how everyone in there would laugh at her and even imitate her. However, I love her to death! Special needs kids and adults are the nicest, most caring people in the world, and they would be the first to do something for you. Meghan made this very clear to me. One day after Meghan had been in the pharmacy, where I work, Beth told me that her 23rd birthday was coming up and she really wanted to have a sleepover, but she did not have any friends. I quickly volunteered to spend the night with her at Beth’s house. Of course, it was very different but we had a great time. To do this I simply have to adjust my expectations and allow myself to have a good time. Also, I remember that no matter what I could be doing instead, I am changing Meghan’s life, and I have learned that a part of growing up is being able to put others needs before my own. Anyone can enjoy anything if they allow themselves. The next morning when I left, Meghan gave me a hug and said, “This birthday has been the best day of my life.” This gave me the best feeling that I have ever had in my life. I can still hear those words in my head like it were just yesterday. We now hang out at least once a month. Just last week she called me and asked me to come color Easter eggs with her. I always ask myself, “If I were Meghan what would I want?” and that is what I try to be to her. Despite our dramatic differences, I quickly learned how much Meghan and I are the same. If we would all take the time to walk in someone else’s shoes, we could one by one change the world, and in this I believe.