To Dream

Ying Ying - Princeton Jct.,, New Jersey
Entered on July 28, 2009
Age Group: Under 18
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I believe in Living, in doing what I want to do without letting myself inhibit me.

It is paradoxical that the self is usually the biggest impediment to happiness. Self-consciousness, reservations, fear of the unknown comprise what I thought was me. I was asleep for three years of high school, perhaps middle school and elementary school too, who knows? I don’t want to think on it too long and feel that curious and potent mixture of petulant anger, sadness, and regret—above all, regret—wash over me—a sense of loss that can only be buried deep and goes nowhere because you know you had brought it on yourself.

I found “This I Believe” in my eighth grade classroom. On a whim, I submitted the composition my teacher had assigned. After I went on air, I never once went back to hear myself. The summer morning that it aired I had sat quiet beside my jubilant mother and looked, resolutely ahead, not seeing anything, and wishing, wishing that the voice I heard belonged to someone else.

I believed in duty. Duty. Duty. How could duty offer me anything true when all I wanted was to bury my head in my hands and cry and scream that it was all false, false, wrong?!

I found “This I Believe” in my eighth grade classroom. Otherwise I would not have encountered those brave and resilient people who proudly make their experiences the source of their strength…not regret, not pain. My essay was out of place amongst theirs. Hearing my voice so incongruously speaking of duty…I don’t think I knew duty—a misconceived duty to myself perhaps—a dim ghost of it to “my family, my heritage, my country”. I could little talk of being suppressed by duty when placed next to those who are struggling onward despite having lost their health, loved ones, even country.

I have all that they cherished and lost.

The world is a wide and beautiful place, and I am equipped with all anyone could ask for to go forth and LOVE IT. LOVE LIFE. Love the myriad of possibilities that shine brightly to my youth, innocence, and hope that hasn’t yet been rebuffed by strife.

When I was running on the slopes of the Alps the April of my junior year beneath a sky fresh kissed with dawn, when I dared finally to close my myopic eyes and began running—running and spinning with upturned face—

I was sunlight and warmth and grass and wind and I WAS


I was whole when I left behind who I was—who I thought I was—and the “duty” that I thought was inherently mine.

So I believe…

I believe in you, in all the people that have shown me what it means to live and who have given me the strength to dream.

And I believe in all the people that I will meet, every one of whom carries a story to inspire and sustain us.