This I Believe

Rachel - Niagara University, New York
Entered on September 10, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
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Almost nineteen whole years have gone by since I was first brought into the world. Along ever step of the way, I have fought against something: my gender and the roles society marks out for me, my mother’s health issues and the stresses it puts against my family, my personality and the fact that my high school setting didn’t allow for us “different” types in their world…but I’ve survived against all these storms that the fates throw my way. It’s one of the few things that I see in my life that has remained the same – the fight against everything. And I believe in that struggle, that war we are drafted into by birth. I believe in the power of persistence.

I’m naturally a pessimist, and so my mind can always see the worst case scenario at the end of whatever path my life seems to be running at the moment. If I meet a cute guy, I think of every way he could turn me down. I audition for a show, and I see everything that everyone else does that’s better. My friend says something under her breath to someone else, and I think of everything that laugh they laugh could mean. Call it an overreaction if you want, but it’s happened before. …At least, I’m pretty sure it has. But in the end, every set of terrible things to happen has a way of redeeming itself eventually.

My love life, for example, hasn’t been exactly exemplary. Maybe that’s normal for a nineteen-year-old girl to think, but when surrounded by people that have done better…you start to notice that no guy ever looks at you twice, or that every guy you’ve ever liked has turned you down. That was me at age seventeen: a heart broken at least four or five times in the past two years, and no hope left for the hopeless romantic in me. Senior year of high school, I thought I’d gotten a break. The boy I liked returned the affection. Two months later, I’d apparently changed too much for him and the girl he’d fallen in love with “wasn’t there anymore”. I crawled back into the shadows until that summer. Then, the nice boy at work seemed to like me. We moved too fast, and two weeks later I backpedaled furiously out of the “relationship” we’d started. Here was my test – I had waited through everything possible, I had thought. Now how had my persistence, my waiting paid off? With nothing.

Now I was terrified to go back to college. My best friend from the university had graduated, and I didn’t want to see the department without him – let alone face all the guys I liked there that didn’t care about me at all. I knew that the first few weeks (including the weekend of auditions I wasn’t ready for) were going to be hell on earth. But I swallowed my fear, remembered what had gotten me through everything else, and did the only thing I could think of to do: plunged in face first.

As luck would have it, the fates never let me even think about what I was afraid of, about what I had lost. The very first day I was back on campus, I met a young man that flipped my life around and made me think about the positive again. He’s matching up to everything I could have ever hoped for in a partner, he understands all my weird quirks and paranoias, and is perfectly willing to just let me lie in his arms as he tells me that for right now, for this moment, everything is fine and nothing can ever harm me. As a pair of theatre aficionados, we match ourselves as perfect mirrors of Raoul and Christine in Phantom of the Opera – I the girl hidden in shadow for too long, and he the romantic boyish soul ready and willing to pull me out of it. It’s too much to be true – which is why we’re waiting until November to make any definite plans about “us”. But we’re both okay with that, because we both know that in the end, waiting it out is worth it. We’re worth it…we believe in persistence.

Never giving up has kept me one of my best friends – the one that told me that she’d never had a close friend for longer than a year. Through a lot of hard times, and a lot of anger, we’re still friends now – almost seven years later. Never giving me up has gotten me to where I am in the theatre – a good audition, two callbacks, and even not completely making a fool out of myself during the dance portion even though a year ago I’d never had a dance class in my life. Even farther back, never giving up helped me survive as a baby – I was born two and a half months premature and only weighed three and a half pounds. And now – almost twenty years later – never giving up on my broken heart has given me the opportunity to have the relationship of my dreams with a beautiful young angel with one of my favorite names in the world. This whole persistence thing works. It really works.

This I believe.