The Talent Within

James - Burr Ridge, Illinois
Entered on April 24, 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.

The Talent within

Jim P

I remember the first time I began my school career. I enjoyed attending classes and learning all the different things there were to learn. It was fulfilling to absorb the knowledge into my head and access it whenever I wanted. I couldn’t help but feel a sense of satisfaction. But as time went on, my love for school withered away into a speck of dust. It wasn’t until my junior year that I made a discovery that would change my life.

I can recall the stress and hardships that I faced going into the year. AP classes, standardized tests, school activities, all of it contributed to my difficulties. When taking the prestigious ACT test, I remember talking with my friends and saying, “Oh yeah I aced that test.” But when the results came back with a disappointing score, I was crushed. At that moment, I felt as if I was useless, dumb, and unable to compete with the best. My mother tried her best to make me feel better, saying things like, “It’s only one test Jim. You’ll be fine. You do so many other things that no one else does.” And then it hit me. I am more than just a number, a rank, or a variable. I am a defined human being with my own strengths and weaknesses.

I returned to school the next day with a whole different attitude in mind. The desire to be the best was gone. The motivation to compete against everyone disappeared. I finally went to learn again. Life wasn’t about being the best; it was about being the best I could be and nothing would get in the way of that goal.

Accepting the fact that no one could be the best at everything, I decided to take my talents and just see how far I could really go with them. By doing other activities for my own personal entertainment and achievement, I accomplished more than I ever thought I could. My devotion to music led me to a spot in the all-state band for trombone, while patience and study led me to end up 2nd place in the Illinois High School Association state chess championship. I continued to do math team for my love of numbers and gymnastics to get in shape. All of it wasn’t about winning, but about doing what I love to the best of my ability.

Today, I take up the next challenge as it comes along and try my very best to complete it. I push my strengths as far as they can go and continue to await the upcoming events that will test them. Waking up everyday, I feel that I am a simple human being that just goes out and enjoys life. I am not a number. I am not a data point. I am not a role model. I am me. This I believe.