This I Believe

Caroline - Marietta, Georgia
Entered on December 17, 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 Believe In Second Place

All I can see is my mother and the accusation in her eyes. All I can hear is her disappointment as she clutches my report card in her fist. Raves of my sisters grades fill my ears and block out all reason. I lower my head in defeat. I got a C. I failed, once again.

My sister is the perfect child, at least in my eyes. Smart, beautiful, funny, athletic, compassionate, and determined, she was all my parents could have hoped for. Then they got me. Sandwiched in the middle I was quickly smothered by the achievements of my sister and demands of my brother. Most of my life I have spent attempting to be her. Attempting to please my parents in ways I never could. I entered my final years as a student with no idea of how to be me because the “me” I thought I was, wasn’t good enough.

It was the first day of high school or welcome to your worst nightmare. Jammed halls of students with too many places to go in a building too big. Crammed into packs of people it was hard enough to survive, let alone get anywhere. Freshmen clung to their maps as if lifesavers to keep them afloat as they were washed into strange hallways by the monsoon of upperclassmen. In total chaos, I move with purpose. I recall the mistakes and tumbles my sister made. Her carefully painted pink fingernail tracing the halls in which I would need to navigate. I learned more than just supply lists that day. In the most unexpected place, I learned how to be myself. I didn’t have to be her to be good enough but she would always be a part of me. All my life my sister has secretly been my guide from the ways of hair care to the ways of our hearts. For this reason, I believe.

I believe in second place. In the power of the forgotten one who wasn’t quite good enough. Everyone has always been and always will be a second place. There has always been someone faster, better, stronger, and smarter, and there always will be. The key to becoming who we need to be is in humbling ourselves to that position and surprising everybody, even ourselves, by what we find, our purpose. This I believe.