Think About It!

Nicholas - Springfield, Virginia
Entered on February 27, 2009
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: humility
  • Listen to This I Believe on RadioPublic

  • 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.

Look, we’ve all done something embarrassing in our lives, right? And I’m not talking about “Oh, God, I just tripped, I hope that hot guy/girl over there didn’t see”-level embarrassment. I mean shame, when you don’t want to look into other people’s faces, when you’re thinking to yourself afterwards, “How? How could I allow myself to do something like this?” We’ve all made big mistakes that have some negative consequences to them, but we’ve learned from them, we’ve grown a little, and we’ve moved on. But there are some mistakes so bad that we never get that chance. I almost made that mistake once

In High School, I was the prototypical slacker. I hated doing anything that required me to get out of my comfort zone. Thus, science classes were the bane of my existence. Anything atom-related turns my brain into mush, rendering me totally incapable of listening to anything. And so it was one day in 10th grade science class, when my equally numb-skulled companion and I were attempting to complete some manner of lab involving blue liquid. After fumbling around unsuccessfully for a half hour, we were engaging in cleanup when my buddy says the immortal line, “Dude. I’ll give you a dollar if you drink that.” Despite everything that reason would dictate, my response was “Dude, a dollar? That‘s it?”

After we’d settled on a proper amount, I acted quickly enough to prevent any type of rational thought from surfacing beforehand, and downed a solid gulp of the stuff. My only immediate sensation was the nasty metallic taste in my mouth, which I did my best to rid myself of. It was only a couple minutes later that the bomb dropped. I had to sit down, and once it was clear to my teacher that all was not well with me, I was hurried outside, where I proceeded to vomit up a couple days’ worth of lunches. You see had I been listening to my instructor, I would have learned that the “blue liquid” I’d consumed was actually silver nitrate, a chemical so hazardous that my own vomit constituted a chemical spill. A Hazmat team was sent to the school to clean up, and I was rushed to the hospital.

By the end of the day, I had purged myself of the offending liquid, and tests had shown that I had avoided any doing any internal damage to myself.

Now I wish I could say that this was a totally isolated incident, but though I’m unlikely to by consuming any hazardous waste anytime soon, I do have a well-documented history of doing things with no real thought or concern to consequences. Things just typically tend to come out my way in the end, but this escapade gives a pretty stark idea of what could happen if one day they don’t. It’s a constant reminder that the quickest bad decision could lead to negative consequences that are life-long. Not to say that I should live my life in fear; only that I need to take more time to weigh the possible outcomes. And though I know I won’t always make the right choices, when I screw up I’ll just have to make the best of it. Because you never know when that second chance isn’t going to come.