This I Believe

Kristin - Azusa, California
Entered on December 13, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30
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I believe we are small. Not in the short or petite kind of way, but in the looking down on the Milky Way Galaxy from far, far away kind of way. We try and make ourselves seem bigger, more important – we have designer jeans and handbags (that match our Porsches) to thank for that. Suddenly, everyone can be placed in different categories according to the importance one places on oneself: rich, poor, White, Latino, Baptist, Democrat, Heterosexual, CEO, Girl Scout, home-owner, employee of the month. I believe we are small and unimportant in an extremely important way: it makes us equal.

When I first came to college, I was excited to make a name for myself as I did in high school. Soon, I found out that I was rapidly changing into a different person than I was in high school – and I completely redefined who I am. In middle school and high school, I sang… a lot. My voice won me many awards and accolades, and I was convinced this was my identity. Once in college, I found it less and less important to prove myself – I quit singing all together by my Sophomore year. It was a painful reality and a mix of hope that my identity was not ‘the girl with the good voice’. Who was I, then, if I wasn’t defined by my vocal ability?

After quitting singing, I started to realize that I try to separate my ‘identity’ from others in almost every aspect of my life. I wear these clothes to associate me with this group, but to distinguish me from this group. I listen to this music because it ‘defines me’. With all of these material designers of identity, I somehow escalated my self-declared importance.

Then came the humility. My father was rushed to the hospital one sunny Saturday with an unexplainable illness that was rapidly making his body weaker and weaker. I had no car and little money to get home. I went to the Greyhound station and got a ticket for $18, and sat outside the station. A homeless man approached me, his face black and weathered, and he asked me, “what’s the trouble, my friend?” I began to cry uncontrollably, and he comforted me until my bus came.

What a reversal. Maybe this should be filed in the ‘results not typical’ section – an ‘important’, white, college-educated female comforted by “unimportant” homeless man. What makes him unimportant? What makes me so important? We are demographically two completely different people. But we are the same – we feel the same things, don’t we? Strip me of my importance, my talents, my music, my clothes, my hobbies, and I am small – I am unimportant. But so is everyone else; we are all equal in this respect, which makes it easier to love each other – and this is most important.