This I Believe

Emma - Atlanta, Florida
Entered on September 5, 2007
Age Group: Under 18
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this i believe

I’m 14 years old and I’ve spent over half my life unhappy and self-conscious, being fake because I was afraid of being lonely. But I’ve also gone on the journey of a lifetime, one that I’m still on, to happiness.

I believe in life – both the good parts and the bad. And some people say how much ‘bad’ can you have experienced? You’re so young, you haven’t really lived yet. But they’re wrong. Because you wouldn’t think things change or get that bad when you’re 7, but they do. Look at the world, yourselves, look at me, age 7, my parents who have been fighting for the past 4 years and are finally getting divorced. My two best friends are moving, and this suffocating combination of anger and shame is overwhelming me because I’m called a ‘faggot lover’ whenever I stand up for my dad. And that anger? That sadness? I don’t really want to feel it, but it has to go somewhere, so it digs deep into my own soul instead. That’s 7 years of self-hate, bottled-up, but still escaping through unavoidable cracks of a façade of my perfectionism, popularity, and power-plays. 7 years of looking at myself in the mirror and crying because no wonder my parents didn’t love me enough to stay together, no wonder my friends left, I’m so mind-bogglingly ugly I can’t even stand myself. 7 years of sucking-up, putting down my friends and myself, analyzing and obsessing over essay, my test-grades, the way I talk and look and walk. That’s alienating and pushing away those I love most in fear that I would lose them, and I REFUSE to live that way any longer.

And that’s the good. It’s been 2 long, hard years of going back to memories, avoiding and then plowing through my craftily buried feelings, slowly unpeeling the layers of my life in a classroom of supportive friends and teachers, and then family, all with their own stories to tell. It’s been hard and I was resistant as anyone would be, and it’s taken this long, but I’m here, and I’m finally able to realize that I don’t hate myself anymore.

Because why should I?

Why should I spend my life miserable, fearing loneliness and therefore creating it? I don’t have to be perfect to be lovable, a genius to be smart, a model to be beautiful. And my family, my friends? They don’t love me any differently when I get a C on a math test than when I’m the class lit. star. Because me? I’m imperfectly lovable. I’m both stupid and smart, both ugly and beautiful, and I love and accept all parts of me, both the good and the bad. I’ve finally faced the truth, as difficult as it’s been, my journey to happiness and wholeness and peace, and yes, I’m still on it and I’ll always be. But I’m going to spend it happy, loving, and free.