This I Believe

Manan - Darien, Illinois
Entered on April 24, 2008
Age Group: Under 18
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“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure…Your playing small does not serve the world… We are all meant to shine, as children do.” This quote by Marianne Williamson is characteristic of what I believe in and how I strive to live my life. Athletes, scholars, parents, children, people of all types, have been labeled as “overachievers” or “underachievers.” I believe the difference between an “overachiever” and an “underachiever” lies not in the gene pool or your physical characteristics; it lies in your gut. It takes courage to commit to a goal. Thus, often, the only thing holding us back from achieving these goals is ourselves. We must all, everyday of our lives, overcome that fear Ms. Williamson wrote so eloquently about, and pursue perfection so that we can improve not only ourselves but the world itself.

Tom Waddle was an undrafted free agent for the Chicago Bears in the 1990s. Waddle was slow and small: two things that many people were sure would handicap him from ever becoming a solid wide receiver. However, what Waddle lacked in athleticism, he made up for in toughness and resiliency. Whenever the small receiver was knocked silly by 300 pound linebackers, he would get right back up and go full speed the next play. If the average person sitting on his couch feeling sorry for himself had this attitude, perhaps the world would be a better place.

On the other side of the spectrum are people like Sebastian Telfair who have the talent, but do not put in the effort to expand that talent. Telfair was a first round pick but did not put in the effort to become a premiere guard in the NBA. Instead of focusing on basketball, Telfair chose to associate with the wrong people, and thus he had few incidents with the law. It was his attitude that kept him from succeeding, and not any physical limitations.

What defined Waddle and Telfair wasn’t their god-given abilities but the fact that one had determination and a thirst for improvement while the other didn’t. A little less effort or a little more effort on either player’s part could have changed the stories dramatically for both of these players. What does that say about the student who is content with just coasting through school? What does that say about the guy living in his parent’s basement? How would our loves be different if we gave a hundred percent a hundred percent of the time? Regret and bitterness always accompany lethargy. This is the reason why I always try to reach a bit higher and do a bit better in everything I do, be it sports, family, or academics. This is the reason I went through four drafts before finally finishing this essay. Just like Tom Waddle never took a play off, I try never to go through a day where all of my energy doesn’t go towards improving myself.