This I Believe

Jarrett - Pontiac, Illinois
Entered on May 10, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30

How many of us wish we could take back something we have said? Many times in my life I have said things to people that I did not mean to say, or I have said things in an inappropriate manner. I wish I could take back a lot of the things I have said to people, in anger; out of fear; or out of frustration. However once you say something, it is out in the open and cannot be taken back.

For many years of my life I would say things and only to regret them later. For instance, I once made a promise to my younger sister; the promise was that I would come home for Christmas. During the time that I made that promise, I lived in Chicago and she lived in Joliet. Although it may seem simple enough, a seventy minute train ride, was impossible for me at the time. I was at the height of my addiction to alcohol and cocaine, and had no intention of keeping my promise. A few days after Christmas, when I sobered up, I found that I had really hurt her feelings. It has been nine years since then, and I have said many other things I wish I could take back.

A few years ago I met someone, whom I consider to be my brother. My “Brother” has helped me to adapt and change, in order to live the new life I have chosen for myself. He has taught me many things, and he also has many catch phrases, that he uses to teach me. The catch phrase he uses, which I believe in is “Mean what you say; Say what you mean”. This is the motto to which I try to live my life.

When I say something today, I try to communicate my thoughts and feelings as honestly and as straightforward as possible. I try to speak to people without feelings of anger, resentment, or fear. Emotions as strong as these have caused me to say things that are not as clear and honest as they could have been said.

Several months ago I tried to quit smoking, any anger I felt was magnified by medication I was taking to help with this effort. This anger I felt found its way into any conversation I had. Anger caused me to say many hurtful things, to many people, these things I said I did not mean, thus causing damage to relationships that I had with other people. I have since been able to mend those relationships by speaking without strong emotions, and only with a clear and calm demeanor, which is something I wouldn’t have done in the past. These examples, quite simply demonstrate the “Say what you mean” philosophy.

“Mean what you say” is much more difficult to live by. “Mean what you say” means living up to my word. It means keeping my promises, maintaining my personal integrity, and also living up to the expectations others may have of me. I used to make more commitments and promises than any one person was capable of living up to. I have learned to manage my life, so that I can keep the promises and commitments I make. I have also found that if I let people know when I reach my limit, then I am able to do what is expected of me.

I have found that if I do my best to live by this philosophy I receive three results: First I maintain my personal relationships with other people. Second I do what I say I will do, which shows people that my word is good, which, in turn, helps to maintain my personal integrity. Third, I live up to the expectations other people have of me, because in general, people only expect what I promise them. I must admit, this may seem difficult. I am far from perfect; I struggle with this philosophy on a daily basis. I have as much success, as I do failure; I try only to make progress each new day.