This I Believe

Elizabeth - Friendship, New York
Entered on November 7, 2007
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.

I find great accomplishment in my limitations.

I’m clumsy and uncoordinated; I can’t sing; I can’t talk to a crowd without turning bright red and stuttering. My clothes are always dusted with dirt and cat hair from being crumpled on the floor.

I know that it is impossible to be good at everything. That also doesn’t stop me from wishing we could do it all- get straight A’s, be MVP in every sport, dance like a ballerina, style ourselves like royalty.

Then I consider, for a moment, the perfect person; they can do all that was listed and more. They are beautiful, kind and accomplished. They are also intimidating and not a little frightening- and I realize that without my clumsiness, my woeful lack of rhythm, I would be the same: cold, pristine, untouchable. A god amongst mere mortals.

I’d also wield a power not meant to be held by a race as inconsistent as human beings. Remember, I’d be good at everything; that includes lying, cheating, pillaging and manipulating included. The ruthless human instinct runs deep. Perhaps even a perfect individual would struggle to overcome the urge to act viciously towards others, given the scary arsenal of weapons that sublimity would offer. The potential to be destructive far trumps any dreams of grandeur that perfection could bring.

So I can’t dance. It’ll save me the trouble of getting tarted up for school and work dances. So I can’t sing. I’ll never have to perform an embarrassingly trite Disney song at my high school graduation. And who knows about my stuttering and blushing face? Maybe someone in my audience is just as nervous as I am. Maybe my humiliation will make them feel a little better about being shy.

That might be the nicest thing about inabilities; they are a common bond between all of us. We all have something that drives us insane with wanting. We all feel the bitter ache of envy in our hearts when someone has something we do not. But, following the same logic, we too will have something the other will not. Remember, they feel the same shame and frustration over something that is simply part of human nature.

I believe, in the end, that is not mutual frustration and jealousy that bonds me to my loved ones, though. Rather, it is my pitiful inability to conquer my fear of killing spiders which amuses my father, my neurotic obsession with numbers that fascinates my mother and my tendency to garble spoken phrases that send my friends into gales of laughter, that binds me to all of them. Funnily enough, I believe that what I lack somehow completes my life.