Comp I - This I Believe

This I Believe Essays

The Power of Influence

Krista Berger

In my few years on this earth I have felt the influence of great people and seen the way someone can move a crowd.  From the power of a voice over a microphone, or an image on a dirty building, I have found the effects upon one another to be encouraging.  I believe in the power of influence, that one single person can inspire dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of people to do great things, no matter what the message expresses.

I think that people choose their own beliefs, but when moved by others, that inspiration can turn into a great passion fueled by the boost from outside influences. Since we were children, we have been listening to our teachers, parents, and the heroes that we’ve look up too.  Each one of them has told us that we can be anyone or anything we want if we put our minds to it. As we got older, we found influence through the media, artists, and musicians that we wish to resemble, and maybe even be the hero we want others to see in us. Through others’ influence, we have found inspiration.

Recently I watched a documentary called Exit Through the Gift Shop.  It’s about a masked, underground artist named  Banksy who is mostly famous for taking simple, yet controversial pop images and applying them on public surfaces like walls all over the world. His work has more meaning than street graffiti; he represents a class of people, mislead and unheard people. He challenges new boundaries and forces his art into the cities, making his street art a hot commodity. “I like to think I have the guts to stand up anonymously in a western democracy and call for things no-one else believes in – like peace and justice and freedom,” he says in the documentary.  His type of art has influenced many other street artists over the years, and not only just influenced them to create street art but to make art in general. He pushes people to pick up anything, whether it is a paintbrush or a spray can, and take something as simple as a dirty wall and make it beautiful.

People all over the world are listening to the radio, watching the TV, and surfing the web, and they are learning with their eyes and ears what they like and dislike. I know that not everything in this world is good, and the some of the weak may get sucked into the scams and evil things in this world; however, even though I believe influence is a powerful thing, I also know it cannot change anyone’s moral views.  I know that people can tell the difference between right and wrong for themselves and people can choose to live above the influence of immoral pressures like drugs and cults.

So whether it’s the heroes we look up to or finding the hero in ourselves, I know that influence is a strong and powerful device. People are influenced every day by walking down the street and opening their eyes, and ears. Therefore, I believe in Banksy’s decision to stand up and call for things no-one else believes in because someday, someone might believe in it.


Respect the Nerd

Briana Engh

There they were: beautiful, black, and canvas. I loved them, yet I hated them. I longed for them, yet I knew I couldn’t have them. I could afford them; but, what would my social group think? Chuck Taylor All Star shoes were everything the popular kids despised. They represented comfort, little cost, and simplicity. To them, these shoes were ugly. They didn’t like ugly. They liked wealth, current style, and gossip. None of these things interested me in the least. Nonetheless, I ended up buying a pair of shoes I really didn’t want, but I knew that the posse would love. You see, I am a nerd at heart; I always have been and I likely always will be. You may wonder why I was embedding myself into this vapid pool of drones; it was because I longed for one thing even more than I longed for those plain, perfect shoes: acceptance. I was frightened that if I was not in the current social strata, I would be patronized and mocked for loving the smell of new books and wearing Star Wars tees. I thought compromising my beliefs would better my life. I was wrong. Over the years, I have come to realize that one must respect the nerd.

What is “the nerd,” you may be asking yourself? Well, to me there is a little nerd in everybody. The nerd is somebody who acts themselves, no matter the consequence. The nerd buys the shoes he or she wants, just because he or she likes how they look. Nerds don’t care what the current trend is; what they like is what matters to them. There are many different types of stereotypical nerds. Common conceptions of nerds are: the book nerd, the computer nerd, and the fantasy nerd. All of these stereotypes are fine, but are not completely true. In every type of subject, there can be a nerd. A personal trainer can be considered a health nerd. An astronaut can be accepted as a space nerd. An actor can be considered a theatre nerd. There are nerds everywhere, and they deserve respect.

For me, the nerd finally took over during junior year. I was done wearing garish clothes that were insanely expensive. I finally decided I was going to socialize with the people I was similar to and dress the way I chose fit. So I befriended those who had similar interests as me, and those people are now my lifelong companions. Now that I am thrift store chic, I can proudly say that I have taken hold of my inner nerd. If I had not chosen this life of nerdom, I believe that I would be coasting through life desperately, constantly seeking others’ approval. Fortunately, I have seen the error of my ways. Like a pair of Converse shoes, I will remain authentic, and I will stay gripped to where I stand.


Determination is the Key to Success

John Lewin

“People of mediocre ability often achieve outstanding success because they don’t know when to quit. Most people succeed because they are determined to.”-George Allen


I believe that determination is the key to success. I have been told over and over again by my coaches when I was growing up that if I want something badly enough, it could be mine for the taking. Even during hockey games, if my team was not doing so well my coach would tell us in the locker room at intermission that, “If we don’t want it bad enough we will lose the game. Right now, the other team wants to win more than you do. If you want it, go and take it from them.”

I believe this idea is true because I have experienced success through determination on more than one occasion. I believe that people can do anything they want no matter how hard it is. If they are determined, only success can come as a result. It may not happen overnight, but if they stay at it and work hard for what they want, they will succeed and their desires will become reality.

When I was a sophomore in high school, I played football and hockey, a fall and a winter sport. I was looking for something new I could try for the spring sports season at my school. I had been in track and field my freshmen year but that was too easy; I had lettered as a freshmen and I was looking for something a little more challenging and fast- paced; something to keep me in shape for the other two sports I played. I had heard that my school was starting a lacrosse team, and I was interested. I had never played the sport before and hardly even watched it. I knew with practice, though, I could gain enough skill to at least play. So I signed up, bought my equipment and showed up for the first day of practice.

My friends and I quickly fell in love with the sport that was spreading like wildfire across Minnesota. I knew right away this was the sport I was looking for, and I was quick to decide I wanted to be captain of the team – if not this year, next year, or even my senior year. I knew I lacked the skill and the smarts of the game, but that did not deter me from my ultimate goal. Since it was a new sport and most of the team was new to it, I knew I had as good of a chance as anyone else. As hockey players, most of my close friends and I were somewhat natural at the sport. Don’t get me wrong –  we still sucked, but we knew what it would take to get better. Soon we were playing pick-up games in our backyards and even on the street. We used our hockey nets for goals, even though they were much smaller than the 6 foot by 6 foot regulation size lacrosse nets. I realized I was getting better and better, and kept the ultimate goal of captainship in the back of my mind at all times. Finally, my senior year rolled around, and I was excited to start the season. I knew that if I wanted to be captain I would have to work harder than everyone else who was a potential candidate. So that’s exactly what I did. I ran harder, shot faster, and tried to perform drills to perfection. All this hard work I was putting in at practice was standing out to my coach and the rest of the team.

The day came when it was time for the team to vote for captains. Although the coach had final say in who would be captain, he was confident the team would vote in favor of the three people who deserved it most. The next day our coach was going to announce to the team the new captains after we had practice. I had so much confidence he was going to call my name I was already celebrating in my own mind, but at the same time I was trying to be humble because I knew I was not the only one gunning for captainship. He announced my name and two of my best friends who I had been playing lacrosse with since day one. It was at that moment I realized I could do anything I put my mind to as long as I worked hard for it. I realized that if I wanted something I would have to work harder than the next person to get it. Once a person experiences success through determination, he will always push himself to do the very best that he possibly can.  I believe that with determination, a person can achieve anything.


Peace is Possible

Steve Smith

I believe peace is possible. I was a seventh grader when a classmate decided I should fight him because “he didn’t like me.” A circle of students gathered around us, and he kept insisting I fight him. His fists were up, kids were cheering him on, and I said, “No! I don’t want to fight you.” Lucky for me the assistant principal came along. After counseling both of us, we were sent on our way. Fighting wouldn’t have accomplished anything further hurt feelings, bumps, and bruises. I chose not to fight, and the end result was peace. Peace is possible. Problems can be worked out; talking through issues is effective; and modeling peace goes along long way in shaping our younger generations.

At an early age I realized peace was more comfortable than violence. My mom and dad would yell at each other and be mad for days or weeks. They would not talk to each other. Sometimes my dad even moved out for a few weeks instead of the two of them coming to terms and being at peace.  I would see how sad and distraught this made both of them, and I thought it would be easier and more enjoyable to get along. It would be better to be at peace, for sure. My brothers and I would argue and fight about the miscellaneous things that siblings quarrel about.  I could not stand how it made me feel inside. I felt pain, pain, and more pain. We would get over it quickly, and we resumed our lives, playing and having fun together. This experience with my brothers taught me we could overcome our differences and be at peace. We would see how minute problems became monsters. Once we realized this, we were able to overcome these obstacles and be at peace with each other. This lesson enlightened me as to the possibility of peace as an outcome to conflict.

Working with children as a special education paraprofessional, I modeled peace on a daily basis. When walking down the hall with a student, I would smile and wave at other students and staff and greet them warmly. It never would take long before the student with me would be smiling and waving as well even if they were having a challenging day. Peace is possible, and it seems to be infectious as well. When I would see children having trouble agreeing and fighting over something, I would help by giving them tools for peace such as “use your words” when you need something, and “take turns.” Having a hands off policy in school helped children see they could work things out peacefully with words.

I see all over the world there is violence and war. Someone dislikes the way somebody is doing something or what they believe in, so they use violence to solve the so-called problem.  Just last night I saw a video of police pepper spraying protesters sitting on a sidewalk. They were sitting peacefully, not aggressively attacking.  There must have been a more civil way to deal with that scenario.

So as I choose my path of peacefulness, I believe it is possible on a much larger scale. Conflict happens, this is true, but how one re-acts impacts the outcomes. If we could all see that our thoughts are  just that – thoughts- and not always reality, we might be awakened to a to see life differently. Looking at both perspectives can also enlighten one to other ways of thinking. We can be at peace. With peace, losing lives at war would dissolve,  family units would grow stronger, and use for aggression would diminish greatly. Peace is possible: this I believe.