The Power of a Nightlight

Claudia - Purchase, New York
Entered on May 11, 2008
Age Group: Under 18
  • Podcasts

    Sign up for our free, weekly podcast of featured essays. You can download recent episodes individually, or subscribe to automatically receive each podcast. Learn more.

  • FAQ

    Frequently asked questions about the This I Believe project, educational opportunities and more...

  • Top Essays USB Drive

    This USB drive contains 100 of the top This I Believe audio broadcasts of the last ten years, plus some favorites from Edward R. Murrow's radio series of the 1950s. It's perfect for personal or classroom use! Click here to learn more.

I believe in nightlights. I have gone through countless nightlights, from Winnie the Pooh’s to golden crosses. The dark is not something I greet with happiness because with it, comes a sense of emptiness. At night, silence is eminent, causing paranoia to kick in. Usually, one’s phobia of the dark leaves when they grow older, but I have yet to overcome my fear and until that day comes, I will keep my nightlight plugged in.

As children, only imagined creatures haunt us at night. Gremlins wait outside bedroom doors, vampires give piercing stares as they watch through windows and ghosts lay hidden inside our closets. These hypothetical monsters can be avoided when daylight comes and when a scary story is shut, but as we grow older, the things that await us in the dark are no longer imaginary.

The horror movies about Frankenstein and Dracula are now replaced by CNN reports from crime scenes and radio stations airing Amber Alerts. My childhood monsters have become kidnappers and burglars that cannot be unmasked by Scooby Doo and his gang. In my mind, the creaks outside my bedroom door are no longer made by fantastic creatures, but by real people. All I can do at night when I am afraid is wish for the sun to rise and make my nightmares disappear.

When I was six years old, my Mom used to bribe me to sleep in my bedroom. Sleeping there for an entire night without running to Mom and Dad’s bedroom meant receiving a new Barbie. Upon receiving my “Ice-skating Barbie” after my first successful night, I felt proud, but knew this would be the last I would receive.

The following night, I crept into my bed and felt as if there were eyes looking at me. I was convinced I could see lurking shadows of people outside my window. I ran into my mom’s room and woke her up, telling her about everything I had seen. She told me to take her hand and led me to our storage closet. She found a small nightlight in the shape of a cross, which I had used as a baby. She plugged it into the socket in my room and all the shadows suddenly disappeared, instantly making me feel more comfortable. My mom probably did not know at the time that I would still use a nightlight when I grew older.

I am not the least bit ashamed that I am 14 and still use a nightlight. I do not try to hide that I am afraid of the dark, and if a piece of plastic attached to a light bulb can bring me peace, I will continue using it. I am happy to have something so small that can serve as such a big source of comfort and hope that everyone can find something so easy to access to solve their problems. Until I am ready to sleep in total darkness, my nightlight will always be my consolation. This, I believe.