This I Believe

Thelben - Norman, Oklahoma
Entered on January 27, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
  • 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.

Once More with Feeling

My grandma died when I was nine. She was my life. So I cried. And because I was raised never to show emotion, I hid under the bed to vent my pain. No one held me.

My dad stopped loving me the summer I turned ten. He was my hero. So I cried. And because I was raised never to show emotion, I snuck my mother’s pills. I attempted to kill the hurt by stabbing my chest. At ten, I wanted to die.

My first best friend showed she loved me by giving me her Barbie. She was my princess. So I smiled and giggled at that foreign intimacy. And because I had never heard my heart laugh, it scared me.

My first prayer wasn’t a prayer at all. It was a plea for someone to save me from myself. I hated myself. While little girls were busy shopping at Limited Too with their moms’, I was hiding under oversized second-hand coats during hot summers. I was alone. I can’t remember my mother ever showing concern. I can’t remember her at all. She’s always been present but never really there. As years passed, I continued to cry every night in the shadows of my bedroom, laugh and smile behind my hands, and hide under big coats. I wanted to suppress who I was. No one loved me anyway if they kept leaving. So I didn’t love myself.

Four years after I accepted Jesus, my entire life changed. At my church’s summer camp, I prayed. I felt something so powerful, it moved me. So I cried. And because I was raised to never show emotion, I hid my face behind my hands. But she pulled my hands from my face. She whispered ‘don’t be afraid to let others see you cry’. So because it was time, I let go. I cried and everyone saw me. I saw myself. Then the strangest thing happened, I started laughing really loud. I was so embarrassed but I couldn’t control it. I didn’t stop. I felt liberated.

This I believe: I believe in a laugh so great that it makes you feel like you’re exercising. Or a cry that pours so deeply from within your soul, that it causes your heart to heal. I believe in sharing big smiles. I believe not only in showing emotion but having a comfort in my own emotions. I accept my smile, my laugh, and in doing so, I accept me. Everyday, I love me.

I graduated when I was seventeen. It was one of my dreams. So I cried and laughed at the same time. And because my hands were full anyway, holding my new diploma, the entire audience saw me. And you know what? It was okay because I saw myself first and decided that would be fine.