This I Believe

Calvin - Wichita, Kansas
Entered on November 10, 2006
Age Group: Under 18
  • Podcasts

    Sign up for our free, weekly podcast of featured essays. You can download recent episodes individually, or subscribe to automatically receive each podcast. Learn more.

  • FAQ

    Frequently asked questions about the This I Believe project, educational opportunities and more...

  • Top Essays USB Drive

    This USB drive contains 100 of the top This I Believe audio broadcasts of the last ten years, plus some favorites from Edward R. Murrow's radio series of the 1950s. It's perfect for personal or classroom use! Click here to learn more.

Einstein once said, “All that is valuable in human society depends upon the opportunity for development accorded to the individual.” So often though, each individual is teased or resented for being different, and so many times the result is for everyone to shrink and fit in. Sometimes, I am tempted to conform and not strive for success. However, my life experiences have convinced me to resist that temptation and fulfill my individual potential, so I do not lose sight of what is truly important—me.

I believe in fulfilling individual potential.

In many instances, fulfilling individual potential is a tall order because it requires stepping out of one’s comfort zone and reaching for growth and achievement. I coach a middle school soccer team, and one of my players thinks he can only play defense. Whenever I place him in an offensive position, he gives up and wastes his talent. He believed that he could not fulfill his individual potential. One game, I told him, “Just try to go get the ball once, dribble as fast as you can, and take a shot.” At first, he protested, however I insisted. He took the ball on the next play and scored the game-winning goal.

I always say to my players, “Growth requires a temporary surrender of security.” I believe that individual potential is ever-present within each and every one of us, and the only force stopping growth of individual potential is our own fear of failure. For that 7th-grade soccer player who conquered that fear, the rewards were endless.

Just like the soccer player I coached, I at one point in time believed I could not fulfill my individual potential. When I was twelve, I told my piano teacher I didn’t want to perform my piano solo in the upcoming middle-school Christmas concert because I was afraid I wouldn’t do well. In actuality, my apprehension stemmed from my friends’ teasing and resentment toward my love of music and proficiency at piano. Regardless, my teacher just told me, “Then we’re just gonna have to practice extra-hard. Won’t we?” Reluctantly, on concert day, I took the stage and performed my solo. To my surprise, I became a celebrity overnight, the entire middle school congratulated me on my solo, and the teasing stopped instantly. Like the soccer player who conquered his own fear of failure, when I overcame my fear of the opinions of others, my friends began to respect me because they realized I was not afraid to be myself.

I believe in fulfilling individual potential. I believe in not shrinking just because others tease me or resent me. I believe in being myself despite what others may think about me. Perhaps, author Marianne Williamson best sums what I believe in when she said,

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. We ask ourselves ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous?’ Actually who are you not to be?”