Evaluate a significant experience, achievement, risk you have taken, or ethical dilemma you have faced and its impact on you.
Despite the bleak November evening, the people around the kitchen table were filled with joy. We had just finished studying the first of the Ruhi books, a series designed to teach the basics of Baha’i, and the tutors, Mary Kay and Chet, were elated that David and I, the pupils, wanted to join the faith. After studying since March, I felt in my heart that I had found what I was seeking, and I told Mary Kay that I was ready. She congratulated me with a loving embrace as comforting as my own nana’s. I filled out the Baha’i registration card, and just like that I became a Baha’i at age fifteen in my sophomore year, the fourth Baha’i in Suffield, Connecticut. Since becoming a Baha’i I have learned so much about how to live my life so I can be a better person. The knowledge I have gained about other religions has made it easier for me to understand them and be open-minded. Understanding is key to eliminating judgment. Now I try never to judge people because I have no right, being imperfect myself. Gossiping is equally frowned upon in the faith and by trying to stop I feel more kindness and love within me. Another part of the faith is chastity, which I believe will make my future marriage more meaningful. The final aspect is that I can never drink alcohol, which means I will never succumb to the alcoholism that runs in my family and I will always be able to think straight. Overall, I love who I am as a Baha’i. However, it is difficult adjusting to life as the only Baha’i in my non-religious family and mostly Christian school. Writings in my faith tell me to be brave and unfazed by opposition because God is always with us, but ignoring strangers’ criticisms is exponentially easier than ignoring those of someone you love. My stepfather told me that he never wants me to host Baha’i events in his house. My grandma tried to convince me to not be a Baha’i anymore. One friend told me not to talk about the faith with her and my best friend told me Baha’i is a cult. It’s easy to feel like no one supports me or understands me, and that isolation is the most painful feeling in the world. Overcoming that fear of aloneness is an ongoing process.But I know that my struggles are worth it when I reflect on who I have become. I cannot say whether or not it is the right path for everyone, but I know that following the Baha’i laws will shape me into a fuller, happier person and make my life more rewarding. It is the hardest challenge I have ever undertaken. Every morning I wake up with the desire to improve. That motivation is the healthiest part of my life. Without the Baha’i Faith I would be a fraction of the person I am today.