This I Believe

Craig - Poquoson, Virginia
Entered on June 21, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: creativity
  • 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.

I believe in Mary J. Blige. The critically acclaimed, Grammy award-winning “Queen of Hip-Hop Soul” is a significant, yet unlikely, inspiration in my life. How a strong black woman hailing from the Harlem projects can reach a white, upper-class, sheltered nerd defies reason. Her gritty, relentless voice narrates my soul’s autobiography.

Real love…I’m searchin’ for a real love….

I first hear Mary during a seventh grade talent show when four uncoordinated preteens swivel their hips and stomp their feet to her bouncy, infectious ode to finding the perfect mate. I am immediately hooked. I purchase her debut album under the cover of darkness, so my country-music-loving friends will not discover my new hip-hop idol. Mary has lured me in.

While all the time that I was loving you, you were busy loving yourself…

I curl up on my bed with the lights off. I did everything right, and she still moved on. I clutch the note that attempts to let me down easily, but the rejection still stings. One day we might be friends, but tonight I want to sulk while Mary wails from my CD player. Mary has healed my heart.

And when there were cloudy days, you brought sunshine in my life…

I glance across the room as he gets a drink. I think it was love at first smile. New discoveries bring new rewards. I scoff at his compliments, but I secretly adore them. He is the first person to tell me I look cuter with glasses. Mary has opened my mind.

Don’t need no hater-ation, holler-ation, in this dancerie….

As colorful lights illuminate the dance floor, I shake back and forth to the thumping bass line. The lyrics make no sense, and neither do my dance moves. I laugh loudly and ignore the people watching. My arms wave wildly in the air. Mary has stripped away my inhibitions.

No more drama in my life…no one’s gonna make me hurt again…

This evening, I sit in the fourth row and hear Mary perform to a crowd of 16,000. They are unaware that tonight she sings only to me. Every note pounds against my heavy heart. My parents and friends are frantic. I usually never give up, but this time I needed to run away. I sob through the entire concert, each tear washing away a toxic thought. That night, I throw away a bottle of pills. Mary has saved my life.

Share my world. Don’t you leave. Promise I’ll be here. Whenever you need me near.

I arrive home late and toss my car keys on the table. First, I determine my mood and then select my CD. Pressing the headphones to my ears, I close my eyes and put Mary in control for a few hours. Every deep breath reinvigorates my tired, tattered spirit. I am ready for tomorrow’s challenges. Mary has given me hope.

There is no need for you to fear … For I am here … All of your life.

That I believe.