This I Believe

Michele - Rochester, New York
Entered on January 20, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30
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I believe that it’s ok to change your mind about what you believe. I don’t understand the stigma of failure associated with being a “flip flopper” because I think that the only way to truly learn more about yourself and others is to acknowledge that others around you may in fact know more than you do. Even if they don’t necessarily know more, they most definitely have reasons for who they are based on experiences they’ve had. They have a story to tell and it’s important to hear that story with an open mind. I believe that there are two sides to every story and that black and white should meet and actually end up being a shade of gray.

It’s easy to develop a belief system and to stick within the security of your beliefs because it lets you live with conviction, it gives you something to fight for, and when in doubt, it answers your questions for you. But things change, and in order to evolve and progress, I think it’s important to move with change. I believe that experiences breed stories and stories are vital to growth and

understanding and the only way to hear other peoples’ stories is to ask and listen. I believe that when a situation presents itself, a belief is formed based on what you know and if you stay open-minded, you will hear more about that situation and chances are it will influence your opinion and subsequently alter your beliefs and I think that’s just fine and I know it’s not easy.

I like to think I’m a girl who lives by my beliefs but the fact is, you can’t know everything about everything and I have found out that by meeting people and listening to their stories I’ve enriched my life in ways that I never imagined. I’ve changed my mind on topics about religion, politics, money, war, food, exercise, friends, family, work, play, and just about anything else you can think of and maybe people think I’m not secure enough in my own beliefs but I think it’s just the opposite. I’m so grateful to everyone who’s entered and influenced my life because even if I don’t choose to share in their beliefs, I have learned to respect them for theirs.

I love that I have friends who have deep faith in religion because I respect their belief in God, and I have friends who are atheists and I respect their belief in existentialism and the human will; I love that I have friends who have wholesome, traditional families because I respect their family-values and I have friends who are gay, and far off the beaten path and I respect their choices, their strength, and independence. I have friends who have enough money to have a petting zoo in their backyard, and I respect their ability to work hard and move up the corporate ladder, and I have friends who can’t buy shampoo without a coupon and I respect the choices they made to remain dedicated to their immediate family. I have friends that protested the war in Iraq and I respect their choice to stand up for non-violence, and I have friends who fought the war and I respect their strength to protect the Iraqi civilians. I have friends that are liberal, conservative, athletic, nonathletic, young, old, serious, funny, introverts, extroverts; I have friends that are mechanics, friends who work at pizzerias, and friends who are managing directors of investing firms; I have friends who have traveled the world, and friends who never left their neighborhood, friends who are Ironman athletes and friends who never stepped on a tread mill and I have learned an incredible amount about life, their lives and mine, and the choices they made and why. Each one of the people I have met and consider a friend is different and they have all made me re-think what I thought my beliefs were and because of that, I think my beliefs have evolved, and I love them for it.