This I Believe

Natalie - Tucson, Arizona
Entered on January 11, 2007
Age Group: Under 18
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An amazing writer once stated, “It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” Most people brush off this quote as being false. How difficult can it really be to grow up and be yourself? In a world where the media controls nearly everything, and peoples perceptions can become easily skewed, it’s harder then you think. I believe that I can be anyone or anything that I want, but in the end I must be myself.

When I was a child I loved books. I was in fifth grade when I picked up my first copy of Little Women. The librarians told me that I was too young to read such a classic and put it back on a shelf. Later that day I snuck into the school library and stole it. I read it under my covers at night and everyday when I returned home from school. I loved it. I devoured every word, every sentence, and every page. I returned the book later of course, hiding it behind some taller books before dashing out for fear of being caught.

As I grew, my mother bought me my own copy of Little Women and I read it as often as I could. I bought the movies, I acted out scenes; but there was one thing I never quite understood about my favorite novel and my favorite character. Jo March was my favorite March sister. She was the actress and the writer and I could relate most to her. So my qualm was, why did everyone always tell Jo to write about what she knew instead of the far-off places she so loved? It was silly, in my opinion; I loved far away places just as much as Jo, and to write about what boring things I already knew, well, why would I?

It was not until quite recently that I truly began to understand why Jo begins to be published more and more as her writing becomes simpler. Jo’s writing style changed and she wrote of things dear to her heart, making them more real, more appealing.

I am a writer. For years on end I saw no reason to write of my life, the somber events that took place in it, or the boring town in which I lived. I wrote continuously of romances or adventures in the Italy I so longed to visit, or of magic and fantasy worlds. I am also an actress and a dancer. As such I portray various people on a stage, or I become part of an extensive chorus line. Never in these experiences had I brought myself into my extracurricular roles. Much like Jo and her writing, I detached myself and lived in a different world.

Sometimes it was easier that way. I didn’t have to face school, parents, friends, etc. I could write of something lovelier, or of some situation in which the characters I created could easily deal with it. I could act as though I had everything under control, and there was no need for me to fret about anything. I could dance away my life and focus solely on pointing my toes or keeping my legs straight.

Essentially, I never wanted to face myself or my life. Though I’ve recognized this about myself, I continue to write, act, and dance, but with this in mind: I can be whomever I choose, or whatever I choose, but in the end, I have to simply be who I am. E.E. Cummings was a wise man. It takes much more courage then you think to grow up and become yourself.