This I Believe

Danielle - Bennington, Vermont
Entered on February 4, 2008
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.

Believe In Yourself

In high school, your education is a race. You must contend against your classmates; complete the same assignments; read the same books; all in four years. What matters is wher you place at the end. Some go slower, placing lower, and some strive to be in the top ten. And when it comes time to receive the awards, everyone gets one, unless you haven’t finished. Number on, two, and three will stand upon the podium. They will not wait for the others to finish, they will just move on. They’ll say it was a good race, they did well, but it is blatant by their eyes that they are reticently basking in their glory. Some will continue running the marathon their whole lives. Others leave discouraged and throw in the towel.

There is a hidden truth about those top three. They may have won but they won their race. They are not better than you and you are not worthless. Our society sets so many standards, requiring us to follow “role models.” The most important standards for you to meet in your life are those set by yourself. You are continually changing throughout your life. But one thing must remain the same; you must believe in yourself.

I have always admired my older sisters. I admired Melissa’s intelligence and Jen’s ease with social situations. Yet I never envied them or strived to be like them. I wanted to live my life. I was a different person with different abilities, so I made different opportunities for myself. I took a special interest in art and tried different sports. I tried new things as well; I was the first in my family to learn to play an instrument or sing in a chorus concert. The path I cut myself taught me lessons I would not have learned any other way.

Sports taught me a lot about myself I never could have imagined. In seventh grade I took up a new sport; cross country running. It remained a team sport but I was exposed to a totally new aspect; you have to work hard to improve yourself. Everyone competed, there were no time outs, and no one else could work hard for you. You couldn’t sit out and then bask in the glory of winning. You had to work hard for yourself, which ultimately would benefit your team. I learned this through continual trial and error.

I had been a swimmer since I was very young, just as my sister had. I watched her swim at a different level that I would one day reach. When I was young I was not concerned with my time, only what place I got. But as I got older and older I was less concerned with my placement and more so with my time. I would immediately hop out of the pool and ask the timer my time. If I beat my personal best, I would smile and go tell my parents. Yet if I didn’t I would walk away and tell myself I would work so much harder to beat that personal best.

I never compared myself to my sister because I swam different events than her. She still holds one record for our high school team, and it used to be my goal to beat it. But discovering I was a long distance swimmer made me discover that I would never beat that record. It wasn’t because I never swam the event; I swam it all the time. It wasn’t because I was apathetic; swimming was the most important sport to me. It was not my record to beat. I wasn’t going to follow in her footsteps because I had my own race to swim.

Most of all from all of this, I discovered the wonderful reward of believing in yourself. I stopped comparing myself to others; I ran and swam for myself, for my satisfaction, and found I was ultimately rewarded. I was much happier being me, believing in what I wanted to believe, achieving what I wanted to achieve, versus striving you be like those around me. When I believed in myself, everything else fell into place. Everyone aspect of my life has turned for the better when I believe in myself.

I don’t follow role models. I don’t want to be like anyone else, conform my being into something it’s not. I want my soul to show through in everything I do, to have passion in my life. I don’t credit my accomplishments to any person or greater being. I am who I am. I believe in myself.