What Doesn’t Kill You…

Jessie - Houston, Texas
Entered on September 3, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30
  • 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.

So many times in life we get knocked down. It’s just one of those things. Life likes to test us to see if we will get up or remain on the ground. My mother use to tell me, whenever I scraped my knee on the sidewalk while learning to ride a bike, “What doesn’t kill you, only makes you stronger.” At the time, I was annoyed at her. All I wanted to do was to quit and nurse my battle wounds. My mom would never let me do that. She just kept pushing and pushing and pushing me to get back up and try the bike. One day, I did conquer that bike. I was on top of the world that day, riding in circles and as fast as I could so the wind would blow through my hair. Little did I know that my mom was teaching me one of my most valued beliefs. This I believe: I believe that what doesn’t kill you, only makes you stronger.

Looking back on my life, I realize that several of my slips and falls did not harm me the way I originally thought, but had only made me stronger. Stronger for the next slip and complete wipeout. One of the most memorable moments was when I completely forgot my piece at my piano recital. My teacher would have each of her pupils memorize their songs, and then perform in front of everyone’s family and friends. I personally have never really enjoyed the piano, so needless to say, I did not rehearse as much as I should have. I got up on the stage and began to play I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing by Aerosmith. I got through the intro, but as soon as I started to play the lyrics, I completely forgot the chords. I tried again, but I hit the same brick wall. There was nothing I could do to continue on. I sat there on that cold, hard, black piano bench, deciding what I should do. I could get up and rush away from the stage into the comforting arms of my mom, or I could get up and grab the piano book from my seat in the audience. I then heard a voice in my head, “What doesn’t kill you, only makes you stronger.” It was then that I decided what to do. I stood up as gracefully as I could and faced the audience. After announcing that I was going to grab the piano book, I swiftly jumped off the stage and grabbed it off of my chair. I returned to the stage, said some silly joke about the “technical delay,” sat on the bench, took a deep breath, and then continued to play the song. Although my song was a complete disaster, everyone, during the reception that followed the recital, came up to me to say that that was one of the best performances. No one could believe how I handled the situation so well. They said I had “grace under pressure.”

Although this may not sound like some daring rescue into a burning house or a freezing lake, I learned a little bit of myself that day. I learned that I could completely embarrass myself in front of an audience, and still make it through without breaking down, and maybe even having a little bit of grace doing it. Oh, and maybe even practice a little bit more before a performance. From that point on, I never had nightmares about having embarrassing moments on stage in front of everyone. I knew that at the end of it, I could handle It. Life knocks you down, but the real heroes are the ones who get back up on their feet.