From the Journal Entries of a Teenage Girl
When I was fifteen, what I wanted more than anything for my birthday was profound knowledge and understanding. I wanted wisdom. At fifteen I wanted to know how people work, that they think and why they do what they do. When I disclosed this to my older brother, he informed me that I can’t have beauty and wisdom at the same time, first comes beauty with youth and then wisdom with age- but I was determined that sixteen should be aged enough for at least a little wisdom!
I outlined my quest for understanding in a travel journal on June 16, 2006, “I plan to live my life with enthusiasm, meaning, and full of travel. Visiting foreign places gives you an understanding like nothing else!” I wrote that I strove to understand and appreciate as much of the world as I could. I wanted to go out in the world and make a difference. I wanted to penetrate boundaries by changing people’s lives and their world perspectives, starting with my own. I still content that getting to know foreign cultures is important, and I go on in that journal to identify learning foreign languages as key. Even then, I knew it was a hefty goal, but I could not see how one would be able to understand human nature without being able to relate to every single person. To me, that meant extensive travel, building houses in Brazil, and administering vaccines in Namibia. And at fifteen it meant a long time to wait to get out there.
I thought I had to journey far away to make an impact and I felt that time was wasting away while I waited to be old enough to do it. Well, time was wasting away because I was ignoring where I was and the people around me. I realized that I don’t have to go anywhere to make a difference, and I don’t have cross any boarders to save a life. I can provide support, love, and kindness to everyone I know to be that person that they trust; that understands the issues and problems in their life. By getting to know one person very well, it makes it easier to get to know so many more. The reason is that we all take on the same challenges, but interpret them in different ways. We personalize our troubles into individual puzzles, but we can have help with putting them together. Every puzzle you have a hand in, you gain experience that you can bring to another puzzle, including your own. Compassion is the thing that brings a person to someone else’s puzzle, and keeps them there working on the problem because they care. Don’t be afraid to step outside yourself and into someone else. Don’t be afraid to shift your focus from your puzzle to someone else’s. It’s hard to do because of the communication barrier. We translate our challenges from thoughts and feelings into words, to incompatible languages. Thoughts are hard enough to understand without having to translate them, but if you work hard enough, you’ll find that you have the world in common with someone- you just don’t know it yet.
This is how I started to interact with people I meet. I was so pleased when two of my friends on separate occasions said the same thing to me after only a month or less of knowing them. They told me, “When we met, you just started talking to me like we were best friends; as if we had known each other for a long time already!” They summed up how I try to treat people before I could attempt to articulate it. So start where you are. You don’t have to spend a lot of money on traveling or education to make the biggest impact you can. I will continue to let my life come as it will without forcing it, and try to make the right decisions, but wherever I land, I’ll carry on the same outlook on life. Like I said two years ago, I plan to live with enthusiasm and meaning.
This I believe: that everyone is making an impact on the people around them as they live. Don’t wait for your life to start to make a positive difference because it’s already started- don’t allow it leave you behind!