This I Believe

Jenna - Stevenson, Maryland
Entered on May 24, 2007
Age Group: Under 18

I believe in taking time. When you don’t, life becomes a video blurred in fast forward. I believe in pressing pause every once in a while: to stop to reflect and be alone with oneself, even in a crowd of people. I wish there was a slow motion button.

Through college visiting, I have been able to see what differentiates each state from one another: not lines drawn on a map or landmasses and lakes, but the way people interact with one another. I have experienced the hustle and bustle of New York City and the slow southern Atlanta, Georgia charm. At one of the southern schools my mother and I visited, we became extremely lost. All of the buildings looked exactly the same to us. As we began trying to find a campus map to find our way back to the admissions office, a man in a white, rusty pickup truck pulled next to us in a parking lot. Automatically, I took a step toward my mother and tried to avoid eye contact with this stranger. As I sensed the figure moving toward us, my first instinct was to turn and walk in the other direction. I had heard enough newscasts to feel this way. “Hey there, may I help you two with anything?” sounded a southern accent. We told him that he didn’t need to bother. “No, I have the time. What are you looking for?” he replied. With that, I realized how much less people would fear one another even by simply exchanging a friendly “hello.”

I believe in taking the time to look at someone in the eye when that person speaks to you. I believe in paying someone a compliment when you admire something about that person, even if it is the purse of the woman in front of you in the grocery store’s express line.

In a world of drive-thru windows and venti-skim-no whip-mocha-latte-whatevers to go, I often turn my head at stoplights only to find other drivers taking advantage of the free 30 seconds to apply mascara or to read the sports section of the Monday paper. On many rushed mornings I have to leave my house with my shoes untied. I, too, then become a red light celebrant. Sometimes I feel a constricting sensation in my chest and I realize I’ve forgotten to breathe. I wish there were more stoplights in every area of our lives.