This I Believe

Johannah - Brooklyn, New York
Entered on October 23, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: hope

From the time I was a little girl, I convinced myself that God had a special plan for my life. I grew up fast – my parents had a nasty divorce when I was six years old and as the oldest of three young girls, I helped my mother raise my younger sisters, while she went back to school and worked full time. When I became old enough to realize that my lifestyle was very different from those of my classmates and friends, I was convinced that I was special, that I was meant for greater things than others.

After going to college far from home and meeting hundreds of great and talented people, I realized that my notion of special purpose was a little presumptuous. I stopped believing in God or much else, put off going to law school and took the first job I was offered. Unhappy in my post-college cubicle life, I again put off going to law school as I had always planned and chose to join Teach For America instead. For the last year and a half, I have been teaching 97 eighth graders mathematics in East New York.

Teaching children in one of the most blighted neighborhoods in America, I am sure that I was both right and wrong in my conviction that there is a special plan for me. I have met amazing children, who at age thirteen have seen a much worse picture of the world than I probably ever will, yet who are happy, thriving, working towards a better future. No matter how hard my job has been at points this year, how many times I have been cursed out, yelled at, threatened, I am constantly shown the beauty of humanity, the vast power of love and hope, and the amazing ability of the human spirit to persevere in the worst of situations. And I have started to believe again.

I have realized the importance of faith in something. This I believe – we can survive any adverse circumstance, but only if we have faith in a greater purpose for our lives. Whether my purpose is to make great changes in American policy, or to make an honest, simple life for myself, I have faith that I can do great things to repair the world, even if its simply to repair the world inside of me.