I Believe I Can Change

Amanda - Rolling Meadows, Illinois
Entered on May 19, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30

Whenever I ask about my family’s past, I was told only one thing: we suffered. I was never told of the good times, only of the pain my father went through after being kicked out of his house at the age of sixteen. Only of the abandonment my grandmother felt after being orphaned at the age of three. Only of the depression and sickness that struck great grandfather. From a very young age, after hearing one story after another, I learned that humanity was suffering, and nothing more.

Although I am only eighteen, I find myself suffering. I am lucky enough to live a very privileged, comfortable life. I have loving parents who have always provided for me and looked out for my well being. Yet, like most humans, I cannot help but overlook these blessings and focus on the miniscule hardships I have faced. I am only eighteen, but I have been unfortunate enough to know heartbreak. Twice. Society may roll its eyes at me, but I have completely forgone my better judgment and risked everything for a boy and I have known the pain that follows when it is over.

I have known humiliation. Almost every part of my body has been criticized by another person or I’ve criticized it myself. I have torn all of the mirrors of my walls multiple times after not being able to stand my reflection for another second, only to hide under my covers with my compact and study the premature wrinkles forming next to my right eye. My weight fluctuates monthly. My hypersensitivity to the slightest comments about my body sends me into never ending spirals of dieting and binging. My hair is fried; the walls of my shower are plastered with the strands that always fall out when it is washed. I don’t care how many times it takes, I will find the perfect color.

I am blessed to still have two of my grandparents with me, but I attended the funerals of my other two. I watched my father’s best friend, more of an uncle to me than any of my natural uncles, vanish into nothingness as he slowly lost his battle with hepatitis. Many of my friends have never been to a funeral, yet I can’t count on two hands the number I’ve been to. I have watched death lurking in the corner, and seen it emerge and swallow the lives of those I love.

After all this, I am fine. Because in life, I believe in the power of humans to overcome everything they have faced and become a better person. Be it a first heartbreak or a Holocaust, I am relieved to know that as humans we will always retain the power to change ourselves and become whoever we want to be. Thanks to my pain, I am more guarded with my love, more appreciative of myself, and I cherish the ones I care about. I believe everyone has the strength to do the same.