This I Believe

Jane - Annapolis, Maryland
Entered on August 25, 2006
Age Group: 30 - 50
  • Podcasts

    Sign up for our free, weekly podcast of featured essays. You can download recent episodes individually, or subscribe to automatically receive each podcast. Learn more.

  • FAQ

    Frequently asked questions about the This I Believe project, educational opportunities and more...

  • Top Essays USB Drive

    This USB drive contains 100 of the top This I Believe audio broadcasts of the last ten years, plus some favorites from Edward R. Murrow's radio series of the 1950s. It's perfect for personal or classroom use! Click here to learn more.

This I Believe

I believe in human potential, adaptability, optimism, and on-the-job training. I know that education plus enthusiasm equals opportunity, and that it doesn’t matter what you studied in school, as long as you continue to study in life.

A good first impression has always been worth more to me than a good resume, through seven distinctly different jobs, half of which I was untrained for in a formal sense. I have been a seamstress, editor, librarian, singer, music and French teacher, writer, and handwriting analyst. I like to think of myself as a Renaissance woman.

My parents taught their kids practical skills and flexibility because they were poor enough to realize that self-sufficiency is money in the bank. They also wanted us to have an education, but since no one in our family had been to college I really didn’t grasp what that meant. Most of my relatives worked at the Navy Yard I could see from my bedroom window, and all but one lived within an hour’s drive of my house. Without a role-model I imagined I could be happy as a cashier at Woolworth’s. Then when I was in Junior High my mother went to college and graduated cum laude in only two years. My future never looked the same.

As a result of her student-teaching experience in our public high school, I was transferred to a private school that changed the course of my life, and that is why I also believe in fate. My alma mater had very high standards in all fields except the one where I knew I could excel,…music. So the singer in me took a sabbatical, and the sleeping scholar within awoke to take her place. That was how I met the friend who ultimately brought me and my husband together.

As the wife of a Naval officer adaptability was crucial to happiness, and I thrived on our turbulent lifestyle. I credit the military with allowing me the chance to be all that I could be by re-setting the stage for success every time we moved, which was about every other year on average. And although that same transience prevented me from pursuing a career in my chosen profession, it opened other doors I had been knocking on for years without the proper entrée. In each new town I was judged only on what I was capable of doing at that moment in time, rather than what I was remembered for in the past. Life is regeneration …every year, every month, every day…so I changed my mindset to achieve my goals, rather than the other way around.

My parents learned the hard way that upward mobility usually demands geographic mobility as well, and I think they sometimes regretted the loss they had brought upon themselves when we established lives far from home. But that is the modern American way. With freedom comes choices, and it’s best to face them armed to the teeth with skills.