These essays were written by students in 2015/2016 in answer to the question, “What do you believe?”
Limits – Summer Herout
Society has always limited people. Limitations based on gender, race, and sexual orientation have caused many people to be unhappy. However, I did not realize the impact that limitations have on people until the summer before my sophomore year when I met James Orlet. I had to complete physically demanding activities without having trained and I was very worried that I would not be able to complete all the challenges. Throughout our runs and bike rides, I was constantly worried about being the small slow girl. I was concerned that being half the size of two super tall senior boys would make me a burden to the group. Because of gender roles in society I began mentally limiting myself because I was a girl.
Hearing of all the times that James displayed complete freedom from limitation was very inspiring and showed me that limitations definitely do not exist and that because of this I am capable of anything. Knowing that I do not have any limits, made me realize that this is the case for everyone. No one should be subjected to any form of limitation or judgment.
It is evident that society limits people for a variety of different reasons. When I was in sixth grade I was doing homework in my dining room with my friend Amelia, when all of sudden we heard people yelling. Peering out of the window we saw a black girl briskly walking away with a baby in her hands. A man began chasing after her, catching up to her very quickly, he then started hitting her. We were concerned about the safety of the girl and her son. The girl looked hopeless, this man was huge, she yelled out “Call the police” and we did nothing. Fearful that making the phone call could make us fall victim to this big scary man’s relentless violence.
Now I question what my exact reasons were for not calling the police. Would I have called the police if the conflict had been between two white people? Or would I have done the same thing?
Reflecting on this moment and other times when I have placed limitations on people without even realizing I become very sad. I wish that I could take back every judgement and label that I have placed on people.
Our society takes away so many opportunities from people because of their gender, race, and sexual orientation. No kindergartener should have lower expectations because of their skin color. No one should be denied a job because they like the same-sex.
I believe that limits do not exist.
I believe in fiction – specifically fantasy. Not in the sense that I honest to goodness expect to see a dragon flying towards me, but in the sense that even though it’s not real, fantasy has a I’m the person who frequently feels overwhelmed by my list of responsibilities and people’s expectations of me to the point where all I want to do is crash. When I get to that point of shutdown, I turn to books and shows and movies – none of which are real in the traditional sense – to help me de-stress. I lose myself in a world of dragons, magic, flight, betrayal, shifting loyalties, love, excitement, adventures, trials, and resolution.
Eventually, I resurface in reality, ready to take on this world of plot twists, disappointment, betrayal, love, happiness, excitement, struggles, and success. Some say I need to live in the real world and leave my fantastical hobbies behind, but I tell those people that I do live in the real world – just not all the time. “Besides,” I say, “those hours when I disappear into worlds you claim don’t exist I gain new strength to live in this one.” When I don’t know who to talk to about my indecision and doubt, I turn to Kirito (an anime hero) or Chuck (a TV show secret agent). I realize my petty problems might still need to be solved two hours later, but at the same time I see them for what they are – petty. They might seem like a big deal in comparison to the rest of my life, but compared to death games, ferocious monsters, and deadly smuggling gangs, they’re not much – easily solved. And so, I believe in the unique sort of power fiction has to help people through their struggles.
What is the key to living a happy life? My life for five years was really sad. I thought I would never accomplish anything bigger than staying in my town. My life was like a river because I was always moving from foster home to foster home. Some were really good, others not. In my last foster home they told me, “Don’t think about the past. Think about what you are going to do in future.” So I did, no matter how hard the situation was in the past. For example when I first came to the United States I didn’t know any english. I felt alone, sad, and frustrated. i really wanted to talk to many people, so I thought to myself, “My dream was to come here so be happy that you’re here.” thinking in the way help me be happy in difficult situation Another time when I started school I felt like I was in the middle of the ocean because I had no idea what I was doing in any of my classes. I wanted to do the school work but it was a whole new world for me. I overcame this challenge by thinking about my goals for my future like speaking fluent english or becoming a pilot thinking about my future made be happy. I believe happiness is everywhere; you just have to find it.
Looking back on high school, I’d say one of the most influential lessons I ever learned was when someone judged me. It was sophomore year and I had only met my friend’s girlfriend a few times since she went to a different high school than us. The relationship with the girl did not last very long; I remember hanging out with my friend months later and asking why he broke up with her; his response was astonishing. He said that the girl was always talking poorly about his friends and my curiosity got the best of me to ask him what she said in regards to me. She apparently said that I was too confident in my body type and that I should be more insecure about it.
Now if she said that about anybody else I’m sure their reaction would have been one of anger; but with her outrageous statement, I only laughed; I laughed because this girl and I are very similar in body types. I mean, she knew me for at most 6 hours total over two or three times of actually meeting in person. Now, I’m not one to think much about my body let alone to be overly confident about it, so to have someone I barely know notice something that I, myself didn’t see was intriguing to say the least.
In that moment I had this opportunity to either allow her comment to harm me or not give her the satisfaction. I realized that this girl was not a subject for hatred but for pity and she was only lashing out at others because she felt she was lacking confidence in her own life. I felt sad that this girl grew up thinking she didn’t think she fit in with what society defines beauty as.
Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent” and unfortunately the reaction that the girl wanted me to have in order to satisfy her desire was nonexistent on my part.
My decision on how to react was simple. Turn the tables and actually feel flattered that she thought I was so confident about my body. I mean, if she thinks I’m confident, I guess I should actually follow through and act like I am! After that decision, I saw life through a more happy and positive lense and started to love my body. I also started supporting others and encouraging them to love themselves in order to feel the same sense of freedom and happiness that I felt.
I am me; and I am the only one who can decide how I live my life. I believe that we all have the ability of deciding whether or not we allow ourselves to be become a victim. I only have one body and one life, so why waste it on constantly wanting to tear people down when we can be building people up?
I believe in kindness and positivity, my mother no matter what had always told me to surround myself in a bubble of kindness, It’s an important lesson in life. Even when i’m angry, or frustrated, I just remember my mother’s nagging words “bubble of light” sometimes I need to fight the urge to snap back or get myself into a worse situation, but I can just feel it like a force field of love and kindness and i’m in the middle and their words or actions can’t touch me and in turn i can’t leave that encirclement of kindness. This is a hard thing to remember sometimes Trust me, I myself am a ball of rage around 60% of the time. But when I do remember it’s a blessing. I have a clear memory of when I introduced the “bubble” into my stockpile of responses. It was early in the morning and my dad and I were having breakfast and we were reviewing my packing list for camp. Out of nowhere he started to berate me about how i had forgotten and the fact that it was 6:30 in the morning and that his voice was raised caused for me to say “dad stop yelling” Big Mistake. He began interrogating me on why I had said he was yelling, he said he wasn’t yelling and it was rude and hurt his feelings that I had said he yelled, this went on for half an hour. ( By the way he was yelling) However during that half an hour I did not respond with anger I just sat on the couch eating my cereal and surrounding myself with love. I finally realized what my mother had been talking about for the past 12 years. He petered out after while when he realized I wasn’t going to respond with anything but love.
As they say “Kill them with kindness”. It’s easy to let your anger get the better of you but it’s just as easy to let kindness and calm take control. Let’s just look at the results 1. The enemy is confused, 2. No one judges you for being nice. 3. Now you feel better about not exploding so go get yourself a treat. Being a kind person is a great thing to be known for. Being positive will get you places, if you’re negative nothing gets done but if you are a kind and positive person your life will be filled with love and kindness, and that’s what it’s all about.
I believe in the power of change. I believe in the power of one person and their voice. Somebody, somewhere, is going to listen. Once I have the ear of one person, I have the ear of the world. People are not going to like what I have to say, but that does not mean I will not say it.
I used to think that girls who whined about sexism were complainers–passive, and selfish. I used to deny that sexism affected me, believing others did not think of me as less than them. I used to refuse to acknowledge its presence in my life, thinking it only happened in society, far away, or where I used to live. But then, it started to poke at me. It wiggled in to my conscience, invaded encounters with others, sly and just barely: slowly, slowly. I refused to define people as sexist, made excuses like “they must just think I am incapable because I am tiny”, tried to turn a blind eye to the misogyny, denied it, denied it: and then I could not. Prod turned to push, and push was glaringly obvious, but I felt powerless and I did not know what to do, so I ignored it still. The push turned into a stab, and finally I cracked. I felt the weight of hatred crush my voice out of me, making me hate every one and every thing that dared to treat me as not good enough, but that is not even the worst of it: I believed in sexism, came to expect it, rely on it, stereotype men because I felt they stereotyped me. I started to wonder if I was not good enough, and I let it tear me up inside.
But then one day, I learned. I learned that the things people said about me were reflections on themselves, that they treated me as insignificant because it made them feel more important, and I decided that if I was attacked for what I believed, I did not care, because that does not change who I am. If I’m the only one who sees it, it does not matter, because now I know that I do have a voice and I am no longer afraid to use it to scream until I am heard: because that gives me the power of change.
I believe that doing something small can have a big impact. That one thing can be anything in the world. It could be as simple as helping someone shovel snow or doing some yard work with your parents.
I’ve helped my parents in many ways, and it always feels good to help out. I’ve helped them in big ways; like shoveling snow for my dad, raking the yard, and splitting wood for my grandpa. Even small things can be a big help. Like holding the door open, carrying groceries inside, picking up some trash, or even making a picture for them.
I realized that all small things are important when others did small things to help me. When I was mowing the lawn for more my dad. My friend came over and helped pick up sticks so I don’t run them over with the mower. So I learned that from small things, great big things can always be an outcome.
Big or small, that thing you do will always make a big difference in the world. Especially the small things, they’re always important because I think lots of small things are better than one big thing. Every day that you do something to help; yours and others world becomes a better place.
We’ve all asked ourselves this question a lot or wondered about it frequently. The question of why it seems all relationships end to the point that you don’t try to be in a relationship anymore. In a lot of relationships people will say “He or she’s the one,” but in ten days, or if they’re lucky, four months later they break up. Why though? If this person was the one, why did they separate? In the majority of relationships it’ll last for a long time and then they get in one fight and separate. These are only two other relationships I can think of and the third is one where both persons like each other, eventually they start to date, and then things just end almost as if out of nowhere. The last is when both persons are friends for awhile, start to date, even though it seems like they would never work, and they stay like this for a long time maybe after two to four years they get married. Assuming of course that they can but you get the idea. All three examples end but the fourth, and it’s because of one reason that a lot of people won’t realize for awhile and maybe never will. They try.
The reason that most relationships end is because one or both persons stop trying. The relationship stops being a happy thing and becomes a hassle. Your once bad habits that they adored is now money down the drain, and your feet up on the dash is no longer sexy, it’s just another distraction in his or her busy life. So how do you avoid becoming ugly to the person that once thought the stars were in your eyes? This is what I found from one Tumblr post one of the most least expected sites. One where you find funny pictures and amongst all that there was something as special as this. One of her biggest fears was a relationship that would end. Once I read this, I decided to write on how you make it last instead of it ending, and to do that, you try. No matter how hard it seems to be. Sure you could say most relationships end because they stop liking each other, or they end because they have to move. But I believe that it’s because they stop trying. If you truly believe that the person you are with is “the one” you would try, because they matter to you. You don’t stop once you get in one argument. After that argument, you sit down, talk, and ask what isn’t working, and work together to fix it.
This is how relationships last. You work together and stick by each other’s side when times get tough and times will get tough. It’s life; there will be tough times and there will be bumps in the road but you can get through them as long as you try. No one wants a relationship where nothing happens. Where no personal growth happens, because then it just becomes boring and you’ll start creating fights on purpose. This is an example of when you try. A relationship isn’t something you both just agree to. It’s something you have to want to remain engaged with.
If I asked you if love was a feeling or choice what would you answer? If you answered a feeling, you’d be correct but you’d also be wrong. Love will start out as a feeling but this feeling can fade and that’s when it becomes a choice, a choice that you have to consciously make when times get tough. No one can tell you if you love someone or if things will work out between you and someone else. That’s up to you. It’s up to you whether you want your relationship to last or not. Whether you want to be with the person. No one can decide that but you. If you want any relationship to last, you have to try. There’s nothing else to it. “Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.” (Dale Carnegie).
I believe you should always do what you love. No matter what, because once you give up what you love you give up who you are and what defines you. I’m not sure what I love but i’m willing to fight for whatever I do. I remember a time when I did not fight for something that I loved, now that is the only thing I regret. That thing I did not fight for was my mom. After she passed I gave up on everything because i couldn’t stop thinking about her and all of the things that she taught me. After she passed away I had no motivation to do anything, because I knew that I could have helped. I could have changed, why didn’t i change? I was to worried about myself to want to help her when i could see things were not ok. She passed away from diabetes that no one knew she had, she had a severe drinking problem and was very addicted to pills. I don’t know why I made to the choice to let her live like that, but if I had a second chance i would’ve changed what I did. I would have stopped doing drugs, and drinking right there with her, i would’ve done anything to help her. After all of this I’ve come out of it with understanding, an understanding that if you care about something enough you have to be willing to give.