This I Believe

Terra - Arizona
Entered on September 10, 2007
Age Group: Under 18

I believe that beauty comes from within. For the majority of my life, I have struggled with accepting my physical characteristics, and in doing so, have devalued the things that do matter; those influenced by my brain and heart. Instead of valuing positive traits about myself, such as intelligence, courage, or kindness, I focused on those things that I viewed as negative aspects about myself. My thoughts were more focused on whether or not I was skinny enough, if my clothes were ‘in’ with the latest fashion, and other insignificant things. Through a change in mindset, I have slowly begun to discard this way of thinking and replace it with a newer, better method. I now believe those things that I once valued are immaterial, and the real traits of a person that matter cannot be seen through eyes.

One of my best friends in the world is a 50-something man who has been friends with my family forever. His real name is rarely used by anyone and he has been called primarily “Bear” since before we knew him. He acquired this nickname through the simple and obvious fact that he is a very large man. He has no illusions about his size, but pays no attention to it and focuses on the important things in life. He is also a Vietnam War veteran and his souvenirs include post-traumatic flashbacks of the war and his painful experiences throughout. This causes him to sometimes delve into deep depressions and have mental breakdowns. Even though he could use this as a great excuse to lose motivation and just give up, he does nothing of the sort.

Throughout my life, Bear has been there as an advisor and a mentor to me, and countless other teens. His job, which he has an undying passion for, is counseling and helping to take care of teens affected by life-changing events, mainly pregnancy, through a teen outreach program. But through his knowledge, wisdom, and experience, he has been a great friend, mentor, and, sometimes most importantly, a listener in my life. He is the first person there to hear about my troubles and comfort me through tough times. He has shown me the importance of kindness.

Bear has also always encouraged me to achieve my dreams. Being a very smart person himself, some of my favorite conversations are those in which we are discussing or debating the most recent scientific advancement or technological breakthrough. He has faith that I can use intelligence to accomplish anything I set my mind to and he holds value in brainpower. With his encouragement, I have attempted things I did not consider within my capabilities, only to be rewarded in the end with success or a lesson well learned. He has taught me the importance of advancing your intellectual abilities and valuing such accomplishments and traits. Realizing the worth in such things as kindness and perseverance, I believe, is key to living a full and satisfying life.