This I Believe

Kerstein - Astoria, New Mexico
Entered on September 13, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: change, setbacks
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I believe we need to make mistakes in order to learn and live. It’s easier to realize where we went wrong and grow from those experiences after they have occurred. But as long as the mistakes trigger life lessons, the mistakes are well worth making.

“What do you mean he’s in ICU,” were the first words of disbelief that came out of mouth as I heard the news. I will never forget finding out my friend, Danny, was in the intensive care. Despite being missing in action thanks to the flu, my friends had found ways to entertain themselves, with different forms of contraband. Danny had taken it to the next level by drinking enough to where he was in and out of consciousness. When things got out of control, our “friends” decided to leave to avoid getting in trouble. Though they knew Danny wasn’t okay, they were more focused on their own well being, which I later realized was not the kind of friends I needed. They left him way helpless and alone, and he was found by police lying in the street, unconscious and beaten. Had they found him any later, I can’t bring myself to imagine. After a couple of weeks, Danny made it out okay. However, the kid in me who pulled stunts and ran with the crowd to make up for what I was lacking at home, died. That’s when I broke from the “we” and it was only then that I was able to grow and become me.

At fourteen, my friends and I thought we were immortal. We were comrades, brought together by troubled childhoods. We were on the express train to becoming statistics and nothing would stop us. We ran the streets like the delinquents we thought we were. We got ourselves mixed up in things that should only be read about as precautions in high school Health textbooks. It was then that I knew I had to break from the “We” and become—me.

At eighteen years old, I am at a much different place in my life than I was four years ago. I realize I wasted so much time being vengeful against the world that I thought had cheated me, when in actuality I was cheating myself of life. I made mistakes, but I grew from them. Out of the original eleven, only three of us got our acts together and made it to college. This is where I am now, and I couldn’t be happier.