This I Believe

Jessica - Johnson City, Tennessee
Entered on April 30, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: family
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“This I believe”

When I walk down the street, I am not afraid of teenagers with tattoos and piercings. I am not afraid that they will try to harm anyone with a gun or a knife. When I look at them, I see lost little children trapped in teenage bodies, being forced into a world they are not ready for. I believe that what people look like on the outside can be a mask hiding who they really are. For instance, my brother was once one of those teenagers with dyed hair and wearing black clothes. He was the one that had always been made fun of in school. No one understood him… except me. I took the time to find the little boy hiding underneath the false face of rebellion. He was not just some defiant young man with anger control problems; he was my brother, and I looked up to him. Always the odd man out, he found himself out of sync with the world we grew up in. Being the middle child, he had the need to fit in with my oldest brother, but he also had the responsibility of setting an example for me. It wasn’t until I was a teenager myself that I tried to understand what he was going through at the time. When I felt the pressure of parents and teachers weighing heavily on my shoulders, I would go talk to him about it. He became almost a mentor to me, even though the rest of the world simply saw an unruly boy.

He showed me that sometimes I had to take what I was given, even if it wasn’t fair and not complain about it. He has always been dealt a rough hand in life and his attitude is a reflection of the inner turmoil he has faced. Coming from an abusive home, he has a temper like dynamite exploding ten feet away. Yet he has never lost it with me, because he knows that even if I don’t agree with him, I’m not out to hurt him. He views the rest of the world as a strange place that had never accepted him.

The teenagers on the street are a resemblance of my brother to me. I am not afraid because I know what is going on underneath the neon hair and the tattoos. I know what they are afraid for people to find out. They’re more afraid of the world than anyone could imagine. I believe they are simply misunderstood and are reaching out for someone to take the time to make an effort with them.