“I’ll never amount to anything,” Morris whined. “I try and try but just can’t seem to finish the crossword puzzle.”
“Don’t be so dramatic,” Shragi said. “Failing to complete a puzzle is not the end of the world.”
“I guess you don’t know my brother,” Morris replied. “He can finish the most difficult crossword in no time at all.”
“Isn’t there something you can do that he can’t?” Shragi asked. “No two faces are alike and no two people have the same talents. Some are quick at math and others are very handy. Some are good conversationalists while still others can paint or play a musical instrument.”
“Easy for you to say,” Morris said. “You are one of the best learners I’ve ever seen. It seems like everyone but me is good at something.”
The Gemara (Sanhedrin 37a) says: “One should always say: ‘The whole world was created for my sake.’”
There is a big difference between conceit and positive self-image. The Torah expects everyone to see his or her own self-worth. One should believe in oneself and recognize the good with which one was blessed. Too often one compares oneself to others and concludes that one is the weakest of the species.
One is unfortunate if one fails to recognize one’s faults because then one is unable to fix them and improve. More tragic is the one who doesn’t recognize his strengths, for then one lacks the ability to start the necessary self-improvement project.
No two people were given the exact same strong points and weaknesses. It’s okay to work on your faults as long as you don’t let awareness of your shortcomings block productive use of your talents.
One More Second: Another Thought for the Day
Asking for directions can often be a humbling experience. But it need not be so. It is basically a learning experience, a growing experience, an opportunity to benefit from humankind’s collective memory and experience. Whenever I feel I have gained in knowledge and outlook from others, I feel newly proud and not embarrassed by my previous ignorance and error. (Rabbi Berel Wein, Buy Green Bananas, p. 129)