This I Believe

Cheryl - Chicago, Illinois
Entered on January 5, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50

I believe, despite the popular saying, that curiosity has never killed a single cat. I’m the kind of person that learned Spanish so I could eavesdrop on people on the train, and if you invite me to a cocktail party you better believe I’m going to look in your medicine cabinet. It’s not my fault. I was born curious, and it’s taken me years to realize that this is not a bad thing. It’s true that this curiosity has made it impossible for me to have one driving purpose in my life (like society tells me at every turn I should have), but I believe I would have made myself crazy trying to limit myself to just one life purpose. Sometimes I do envy those that have one single, overarching ambition: to save the rainforest, to write the great American novel, to find a cure for AIDS. It seems very simple, very straightforward, very easy. But what’s wrong with having an interest in all of those things, I say?

A college advisor once told me that anyone who has trouble deciding on a major because they think they can succeed at anything is simply arrogant. I’m glad that even at 20 years old I had the confidence to walk out of that office rolling my eyes at his attempt to crush my spirit, as no doubt, his had been crushed somewhere along the way. Curiosity is not related to arrogance. They’re not even kissing cousins. Curiosity opens doors, opens minds, makes the world accessible. Curiosity is what made me travel to Peru, France, Italy, Germany, and halfway around the world to meet in person the man who would become the love of my life. Curiosity has led me to star in plays, edit the Sports section of my school paper, teach myself to knit, write a novel, drive Route 66 solo…

I believe that if I decide who I wanted to be yesterday is not who I want to be today, it’s no cause for alarm. It’s the way my life is supposed to be: ever-changing, ever-evolving into a better version of myself. There’s an entire world of ideas and experiences out there. Why would I ever need to limit myself to any one of them? I do believe I can succeed at anything I want no matter what that advisor told me. If that’s arrogance, so be it. George Eliot said, “It’s never too late to be what you might have been.” Who knows who I may want to be tomorrow? Why limit my options? The 20-year-old me may never have planned on one day falling off of a camel in the Negev desert or being puked on at Oktoberfest in Munich, but her life, my life, is all the better for experiencing those things. There is an unlimited number of potentially embarrassing and certainly enlightening situations out there. I just wonder what’s next…