This I Believe

Kristin - Fort Collins, Colorado
Entered on June 20, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: change, hope
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You may say I’m a dreamer—but I’m not the only one

I believe in the power of naïveté. Few experiences in life compare with those experienced in our first years on this earth—our blissful days of childhood. Countless new sights, sounds, and smells set in motion an insatiable sense of curiosity and desire to learn about everything it is that makes up our world. I can so vividly remember seeing the expanse that is the ocean for the first time and feeling even smaller than the small girl I was. Or taking in my first eyeful of the Rocky Mountain majesty in my very own backyard…it was as if the eyes of my eyes had been opened. Unaware that adversity existed, the carefree days of childhood for many of us are days we long for as we age and become more aware of the complicated realities life can bring our way.

As we grew into young adults, the term “naïve” began to have a different connotation. What was earlier a quality that allowed us to see things through innocent and awe-inspired eyes slowly morphed its way into meaning inexperience, or a certain lack of touch with reality. It was as if one day we were expected to wake up and make sense of the world. Being naïve was a thing of the past and in the real world, the innocent idealists would not survive.

Perhaps biased by my incredible upbringing and unbelievable life experiences I have had in my 24 years, I don’t think there is a greater disservice humanity can do for itself than to discourage idealism in the face of real world challenges. This naïveté we are blessed with as children is a tremendous gift, and as we grow into the men and women we become, it is this quality that allows us to feel as though the sky is the limit. After all, is it possible to achieve what we are capable of if we do not dream? Go ahead—be unrealistic, I dare you.

Now in my twenties, I have truly learned what an awkward decade of life this has turned out to be. Faced with big life decisions and new challenges that accompany the transition into adulthood, I have spent many days feeling unsettled and discontent. I do, however, feel a strange sense of comfort knowing that many others my age that I love feel the same way. We are all guilty of a similar crime…naïve idealists with visions of greatness, we are all realizing that life right now is nothing more than a perpetual cycle of biting off more than we can chew. We are young, talented, intelligent, ambitious visionaries who, like the other hopeless romantics in the world, are trying to find our path—our path to being the change we want to see in the world.

The truth of the matter is this: we are not all going to make drastic changes in the world during our short stays on earth. But, the single greatest thing we can do as humans to enable ourselves to be agents of change is to embrace in our hearts our primitive and innate ability to dream and let it guide us in our voyage to make this world a better place. This, I believe.