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these are the things i believe in

because everybody’s gotta believe in something.

I believe that travel is the best thing a person can do for themselves, and I believe that travel should be universally accepted as important or crucial – not as a luxury. I believe the world is the best classroom, and that we should be encouraging all young people to make travel a very high priority. I believe that traveling has an immeasurably positive impact on the entire world.

I believe in the golden hour sunlight. Morning and evening.

As Mark Twain once said, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” I believe the world would be a much better – more understanding, more peaceful, more accepting – place if more people made real efforts to travel internationally.

I believe in closing your eyes and holding your breath and crossing your fingers when passing through a tunnel. (As long as you’re not the driver.)

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I believe in sincere compliments and sincere apologies.

I believe in choosing experiences over money. That money is temporary but memories are forever, and that saying yes to adventures is always worth the price you pay. Your bank account might not agree, but your heart and soul definitely will, and I value the state of my soul more than the state of my bank account. You can always make more money. You can’t ever get back lost time.

I believe that those who risk are the ones who win.

I believe that the world needs writers and artists and photographers and dancers and singers. I believe that we should always be creating.

I believe in meaningful conversations. I believe in sharing your culture with others – whether it be your country’s culture, your city’s culture, your region’s culture, your family’s culture – and learning about what makes their culture special, too.

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I believe in coffee, and tea, and eating more vegetables, and not feeling shame for enjoying dessert.

I believe in rooting for the underdogs.

I believe in stained glass windows and creaky floorboards and narrow back staircases. I believe in gardens that you can walk through, with archways made of flowers and white lights and bird baths and stone benches and hammocks and little trickling ponds. Mosaic step stones and lavender and rose bushes and sunflowers. And vegetable gardens and orchards full of lemon trees.

I believe in taking the scenic route whenever possible, with the windows down, sunglasses on, music turned up so loud you can’t hear anyone talk. I believe this is one of the best forms of therapy.

I believe in starving the ego and feeding the soul.

I believe in the comfort of home, and that “home” can be found in more than place – and in people.

I believe in walking barefoot in grass, mud, lakes, oceans, dirt. I believe in the sound of lawn mowers in the summer on a Saturday morning, and the smell of freshly cut grass. I believe in laying in your high school’s field with your friend, getting bitten by mosquitos and eating candy and wondering about the future.

I believe in thinking with your heart before your head.

I believe that naive optimism is better than cynicism.

I believe in airplanes and the romance of train travel and open-window-road trips and bike rides and long walks and hikes in the Rocky Mountains. I believe that being in motion in any form is sometimes all it takes to get out of rut and clear your mind, whether or not you knew you needed to clear your mind in the first place.

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I believe in the smell of freshly fallen leaves in the fall, and I believe in the crunch of snow in the winter. I believe in when “the air smells like field hockey” – crisp, dry, cool, like early October. I believe in butterflies on the first day of school, every year.

I believe in escaping comfort zones and doing things that feel scary as often as possible. I believe in asking for help when you need it, and I believe in saying thank you and you’re welcome.

I believe in working hard, but leaving room to let what you love find you.

I believe that food tastes better when it’s been cooked by a friend, and that wine goes with any meal.

I believe that feminism and chivalry can/should coexist (and that it’s called being polite, respectful, humanistic), and that no one should be treated differently based on gender, race, age, sexual orientation, anything. I believe that humans are humans, and that every person is someone to be respected and appreciated. I believe to my absolute core that we are all the same.

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I believe in natural air over air conditioning, and I believe in natural light over lamps and lightbulbs.

I believe in recycling and paying special attention to taking care of our planet.

I believe in the magic of books, the magic of storytelling, the magic of words. I believe in libraries and book stores and magazines and blogs and newspapers. I believe the written word is powerful and intense and emotional. I believe that journalism will never be dead, and that art and creating and imagination is the pulse of our human existence.

I believe that love is also the pulse of our human existence.

I believe in the freedom of travel and the moral duty to exercise it regularly, and elephants, and nights spend under the stars on rooftops and mountain tops, and overripe fruit in season, and above all else, I believe in love. —James

I believe in dancing and scream-singing in the rain in the front yard of your best friend’s house on the 4th of July.

I believe that friendships take maintenance, patience, and selflessness. I believe that after a certain age, they require a real effort to keep up, especially from long distances. But the effort is essential and very very very worth it.

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I believe that intuition should not be ignored.

I believe that your twneties can be a really hard, confusing decade of life – but also a really liberating, explosive, magical decade, too. I believe in relentlessly going after your individual aspirations, even if it means being lonely, broke, confused, anxious and depressed at times. I believe in believing that it will all work out just fine.

I believe in nectarines and cherries and lemonade.

I believe in setting goals, making bucket lists, and dreaming up dreams that might never be realized. I believe in yoga in Costa Rica and surfing in Hawaii and strolling through Israel and thru-hiking the PCT and taking trains across Asia and Spain and Patagonia and eastern Europe – and all of my other dreams that have yet to come true.

I believe in watercolor paint and flowers and dreamcatchers and yarn and perfect walking sticks.

I believe that confidence, determination, free-flowing creativity, and strong focus will get you anywhere you want to go in life (but I also recognize how hard it can be to juggle it all at once). I believe that a genuine commitment to your creativity and art – combined with genuine empathy for other humans and a heartfelt care in your thoughts and actions – can play a massively beneficial role in your professional life, personal passions, and all relationships, as is explored in Robert Rimm’s book, Empathy: Social Visionaries Putting Creativity into Action.

I believe that religion can mean different things to different people, and that that’s okay, and that we should be more respectful and open and tolerant of the way other people choose to live their lives.

I believe that we’ll always have London.

I believe in Philadelphia, in the United States, in the state of Colorado. I believe in the UK and Italy and Germany and Slovakia and Ireland. I believe in Venice and Berlin and Dover. I believe in San Francisco and New York and Dallas.

I believe you should never be the smartest person in a room. And I believe that you should set fire to your life, and then seek those who fan your flames.

These are the things I believe in. What do you believe in?

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6 Comments

  • Reply Amy Hopf

    hay recycling

    July 20, 2016 at 2:18 pm
    • Reply Kristen Hopf

      Is that the only thing you believe in??? WHAT ELSE U GOT

      July 20, 2016 at 2:19 pm
  • Reply Mollie Simon

    I believe the bridges I burn light my way.

    July 21, 2016 at 7:45 pm
    • Reply kristenhopf@gmail.com

      Yes, girl. Yes.

      July 25, 2016 at 3:51 pm
  • Reply Hannah Myer

    This is beautiful, Kristen. I am so blessed to have a friend like you. You’ve always been one to fan the flames of my life, and for that, I’m so thankful.

    This post has prompted me to think more deeply and specifically about what I believe in – and write about it. I’ve been needing to get that pen back to paper. 🙂

    July 26, 2016 at 5:25 pm
    • Reply kristenhopf@gmail.com

      Hannah!!! You know you are one of my most encouraging friends, and my life truly truly truly truly wouldn’t be what it is today if not for you! I can’t wait to see what you come up with 🙂 🙂

      July 26, 2016 at 9:14 pm

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