This I Believe

Brianna - Oswego, New York
Entered on September 10, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
  • Listen to This I Believe on RadioPublic

  • 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.

No matter how big or how small, I believe that the hardships we endure make us the people of the present. Each experience being a tiny scalpel that helps to mold an individual in even the most minute ways. Yet some experiences are more like chainsaws than scalpels.

The thing I believe to have most greatly molded my life is my cleft lip/ cleft palate. Now by no means am I here to say that I am any different than any one else. I do not view this “defect” as that. I view it solely as a character trait. I can attribute my view on it based on what it has done for me. I attribute the good things, and the bad.

I grew up in a small town where everyone that went to school together in grade school went to school together in middle and high school as well. Needless to say, everyone knew everyone else. Therefore, if someone was labeled with a nickname or stereotype it was almost impossible to get rid of it. This is where I find my hardship. Though the years have been kind in the way the cleft lip has grown out and the scar has faded, when I was a small child my teeth were twisted and separated quite a bit and I required braces for approximately seven years. That, coupled with the fact that I was an overly hyperactive child with a big brown scar on her face, I was not exactly welcomed into society with open arms. As a matter of fact I was quite the little social outcast. I grew up having literally one friend whom I love more than anything else surrounded by a society that hated me so much they would go out of their way to make my life miserable.

For me, grade school was the worst. Being unable to control my A.D.H.D. even on medication made me incapable of sitting still for any length of time so school itself was difficult. Don’t get me wrong, I love to learn and am now a college sophomore. As a child though, I found that I had to put in that much more effort and emotion into learning than any of my peers. This made me bond closely with a lot of my teachers in middle and high school and being cast out in a sense by my peers I was able to spend more time with adults in general. This is why as I was growing up adults would constantly comment on my ability to hold conversations far above the level of my peers.

At this time I feel that I must add proof of how my “defect” has helped change me. I was quite obnoxious as a child. I admit this openly. Yet time has its influences and I have grown in many ways. I have been told that ovver the years even my peers have noticed a change in me. I was in the store back in my home town one day and I passed a group of people that had never really liked me. Quite to the contrary, they made my life a living hell most of the time. I turned an isle and stopped to check out an item on the racks and I overheard them talking about me. They must have thought that I had continued on with my shopping because I doubt that if they had known I was there they would have said any of it. They kept remarking on the fact that I had slimmed down and adopted a style. And how a few of them knew that I had gone on to college and managed to do well there. One of them even went so far as to mention that I had turned out a lot differently than she had expected given the hard time they gave me when I was younger. They may have kept talking but seeing as I was on the verge of tears I had to move on.

Of all the things my “defect” has done for me, my sense of ethics, morals, and opinions have to be the most highly affected. Though in my opinion they were affected in the best way possible. Too often have I heard stories of people with disabilities and defects that have ended up hating the world and everyone in it. Being scorned and hated by my peers has caused me to love and honor people in a way that few others do. Even after meeting people for the first time, I tend to do and say things that show a sense of love and respect that most people don’t develop with friends they have had for years. It is hard to describe exactly what this “defect” has done for me in any other way. All I can say is that I know that I view things in a different way than anyone else. I try to not take things at face value. I have learned the hard way that emotions, personal beliefs and hardships can affect someone’s daily life and eventual outcome. I know that mine was. Thank you for your time and attention.