Stylized line drawing of mark playing the flute

Don't let your weaknesses define you

I had terrible asthma as a kid. I was never hospitalized for it but I did have to carry an inhaler everywhere and I would wheeze and cough whenever I exerted myself too much.

Not being able to breathe is a terrible feeling and I spent a lot of time making sure I never felt that way. But I was using it as an excuse for things when I didn’t need to. It was hard not to take advantage of such an easy out.

It was too easy to use for things like PE in middle school when I didn’t feel like facing everyone else in my class. My teachers had to deal with so many kids, it was simpler for them to let me just sit out to the side.

The only person to ever call me out on it was my clarinet teacher. I was working on a difficult song and I was having trouble with a long run of high notes. I started moaning about how it was too hard to play because of my asthma and couldn’t we play something easier.

I don’t remember the man’s name anymore but I remember what he said. He said β€œIf you keep making excuses for yourself, you’re never going to accomplish anything. Everyone struggles with things. Quit making excuses and get to work.”

His words stuck with me. I never used my asthma as an excuse to get out of anything again.

I’m still as a capable as anyone else of a good rationalization. Try as I might, I slip up and make excuses for things I’m doing.

But I always hear that teacher’s voice in my head and sometimes that’s enough to turn me around.