Seems hard to believe that my “This I Believe” essay has just turned four! I’m happy to report it’s still the fourth most popular essay, which is just amazing to me. When I first wrote this essay, I submitted it online, didn’t hear anything more about it, and promptly forgot about it. Then several months later, in December, a very nice lady from NPR wrote to ask if I would give permission to print the essay in our local paper on Christmas Eve. I said, “sure,” and she added as an aside, “I guess you know by now how popular your essay is.”
I had no idea. I asked her what she meant, and she seemed surprised that I wasn’t tracking it online. When she told me it was the second-most popular out of about 20,000, I nearly fell out of my chair. I shared this news when my husband came home and added that “someone named Penn” had the most popular entry. He was already familiar with it, and said, “that’s Penn Jillette.” I shrugged, okay, but still didn’t know who he was talking about. It didn’t matter to me because I was so excited that my essay had done so well.
A few nights later we were watching Identity, and my husband said, “There’s your number one guy, Cherie.” Again (duh….. ) I didn’t know what he meant. He goes, “Penn Jillette? From Penn and Teller? That’s him,” and points to the screen. Well now I was even more surprised that my essay did that well! Because Penn was (is) famous and who the heck knows who I am? Even more cool that the words resonated. So to see the essay had staying power all these years later, with thousands of additional essays added to the mix? Amazing.
The essay was a personal one for me. I write about my past because I want to help people just like me know that they can be happy. That concept may sound simple to those of us that are happy now, but if you’ve struggled a lot in your life or been through some terrible things being happy doesn’t come easy. That’s why I don’t get too upset when someone doesn’t like my writing. Not everyone will relate to it, and that’s okay. I’m searching for the ones that will relate, because there are a lot of them out there.
Quite a few people have actually contacted me after reading the essay, which is just about one of the best things ever. I am thrilled each and every time someone tells me they enjoyed it, related to it, understood, and the like. So thanks once again to each and every one of you who read the essay and made it popular. It means a lot to me that you did.