This I Believe

Bethelehem - Cincinnati, Ohio
Entered on November 1, 2006
Age Group: Under 18
  • 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.

A Smile Can Change a Life

As I walk down the halls of my high school, I always try to smile at all my friends that that I pass by, even if they look like the last thing that they want is any social contact with other human beings. I believe that a smile can change a life. It is in that infinitesimal sign of gratitude that gives every human beeing a sense of self respect and pride.

I remember my first day of seventh grade. I had just moved from Georgia to Kentucky. I didn’t know a soul that went to my new school. I remembered being so scared, that I nearly broke down in tears during homeroom. While in homeroom I turned around in my seat and saw a girl smiling at me. I smiled back, and before I knew it we had become best friends. Her name was Jenifer, my first friend in Kentucky. We went to a theme park together and even joined the same sports team. We ran together keeping each other company and were inseparable. That smile was strong enough to bring two people who had never even met each other to become sisters. That smile gave me all the confidence that I needed to get through the rest of the year. I wasn’t alone anymore.

I had believed that middle school would become an insuperable stage in my life. But that one beam gave me a blithe outlook on everything. Even through my darkest most dismal times, I just remembered that warm welcome that gave me courage. It is amazing how such an effortless thing such as a smile can give a person a feeling of acceptance, warmth, security, and exhilaration. It is the universal soul food. It is the only contagious epidemic that couldn’t be spread around the world more quickly or widely enough. Whether that smile comes from a girl with bottle cap glasses and braces, or a guy who looks like a younger version of Brad Pitt, there is always a joy that fills the heart, because someone is showing that they care. In the Webster Dictionary love is defined as a strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties. A smile can represent all of the same things as love and fully deliver it to anyone and everyone. It is the doorway to a euphoria that cannot be obtained simply through the imagination.

During the first semester of the eighth grade, I moved to Ohio. Slowly, I began to lose touch with Jenifer. Day by day we drifted apart. We were just too far away from each other, and transportation was a hassle. I sometimes think to myself, how would I have survived middle school without a friend, without that grin that represented our sisterhood? That one facial expression changed me and my outlook on life forever. The world suddenly seemed to be a better place.

There is so much more behind a smile then just showing off those pearly whites. The person recieving that smile also recieves all the messages of compassion that come along with it. But the thing that never ceases to amaze me is that it is always returned, with just as much sympathy as it was given. There is a quote that was written by H. Jackson Brown Jr. that I live by till this very day. It sates, “Today, give a stranger one of your smiles. It might be the only sunshine he sees all day.”