This I Believe

Mellissa - East Walpole, Massachusetts
Entered on August 9, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50

I believe in the power of perseverance and lessons learned in striving for a goal. As a child an authoritarian father and a permissive mother diminished my self-worth. I had goals and dreams but faltered. I approached life either fearful and shy or loud and rebellious.

When I was a freshman in high school I was placed in an English honor’s class. I loved books, I loved reading, and I loved the mystery of writing but was unable to express myself. Secretly I was thrilled. Secretly I wanted to write and be an intelligent reader but outwardly I acted like I did not care. I had doubts, I had reservations and I had fears. I lasted two days in that class. As the door shut behind me, and I walked the halls toward a less-challenging class, disappointment filled my heart. I left my goals and dreams in the wake of a voice that promised failures to come. I did not try because I was sure I would not succeed. I had excuses and reasons why I would not succeed. Sometimes I blamed myself. Sometimes I blamed others. I told myself it did not matter but I was wrong. It did matter. In abandoning my goals I abandoned myself and lost opportunity for growth. Slowly I began to reach beyond my fears. I wondered what if I stuck with my goal? What if I tried? Maybe I might succeed, maybe….

I learned how to snowboard. Would I succeed, could I do it, would I be good enough? Self-defeating thoughts crept through my mind but I did not let them win. I learned to trust myself as my snowboard soared down a snow-white mountain. I fell many times and was most often the slowest rider in my group but I realized that in trying to reach my goal I was succeeding. The fear of failure was still present but determination began to grow. I was the one making decisions not my fear of failure. I took a writing class and shared my writing pieces with others. As I wrote and shared my work I learned that exposing myself to vulnerabilities made me stronger. I took up swimming. I woke each morning at 5 a.m. and headed over to the pool. I took lessons and watched more experienced swimmers. I observed their style and eagerly sought their advice and smiled as others cheered me on.

Since then I have had many goals and with striving for each goal I have prepared myself for new goals. I have come to understand the value of having a dream and pursuing a goal. I have learned self-worth comes from within and confidence builds with each effort toward a desired experience. I have learned it is not the goal that rewards but lessons learned when striving for a goal that is the true reward.