This I Believe

Shynise - Manlius, New York
Entered on December 8, 2007
Age Group: Under 18

Shynise Stiff


I believe in independence.

My definition of independence is that of personal independence, self sufficiency, self-reliance, and self-direction.

Independence teaches one to be more self-sufficient. People would be more successful if they lived a life without having to care for the needs of another, or feel like they have to meet the expectations of others. It is an experience where you get to know yourself better and acknowledge your personal needs.

In a way, independence causes a person to mature or grow. It also gives people the opportunity to make the choices that will shape their future. When I was 14, I made a choice to leave home and attend school five hours away from home. I wanted to help my family get out of poverty and make a difference. I believed this experience would be the first of many giant steps to success.

I’ve realized that independence is not for everyone, some people depend on others to find themselves. I feel like those who believe that they can push themselves are the ones who would succeed in self-government.

Even though I live in a house with three adults and five other girls, I am on my own. It is my job to make sure that I maintain an honorable average, do house chores and my laundry, and have a ride to get to my extracurricular and weekend activities. It is my responsibility to manage my money that my parents send, and to make sure that I have something to eat for breakfast, lunch, and Saturday dinners. I lost parts of my child mentality; I had to be more mature in situations.

Through independence, I have learned communication skills, networking skills, and community living skills. I started at a high school, where I was part of the smallest minority, where I did not know anyone who went there, and I moved into a boarding house with people I had never met. My family was five hours away, so there was never any immediate support from the ones who understood my culture the most; but I directed myself in the way that allowed me to move closer to my goal of success.

My experience with the F-M A Better Chance program has been a roller coaster for me. There has been numerous times where I have felt weakened by being all alone. Many times my independence has caused me to be an outsider. These emotions only act as a drive for me.

I think about my happiness with independence, everyday that I persist through the cold of Manlius, the stresses of life, the struggles of being different, and censoring certain aspects of life and culture… The only thing that goes through my head is a future of independence, determination, and prosperity. I believe in independence.