I'm applying via Commonapp and I figured I need a really strong personal essay. This is my first draft of my personal essay, and I want to be sure it is good enough. I just joined this forum, and I'm VERY new to this, so I hope you'll be kind. Also, I'm applying for Vassar on ED2, if it helps while criticizing the essay. Thanks!
"The speech I am about to recite is 'Marc Antony's speech over the dead body of Caesar', by Julius Caesar." I stammered, and froze as the entire audience burst into spontaneous laughter. I blushed, whispered "Umm, by Mark Antony", and wished I could turn invisible as I waited for the laughter to stop. Though the "entire audience" had just have been my classmates and my English teacher, it was enough to make my brain freeze up with stage fright. Public elocution, even a practice session, was definitely not for me.
Back in the 10th grade, I was a quiet kid, prone to working quietly by myself rather than participate in class discussions. If I wasn't so lucky to avoid the teacher's gaze for questions, I'd get up unsteadily, mumble a fast answer incoherently staring down at my shoes, and sit abruptly. I was a good student though; I studied hard, got good grades and my teachers liked me. The only problem, they said to my parents during parent-teacher conferences, was that I didn't speak up in class and "show her true potential". Outside class, I was still an outspoken person; the loudest in my friends circle and the one most likely to tell stories and entertain people. Still, I had the worst case of stage fright; when it came to public speaking, I was a nervous wreck. The thought of standing in the spotlights in front of people I hardly knew, and showing my worth, was a nightmare.
It was my English teacher who urged me to participate in the recital. She had always appreciated my good language skills. Few people in my school were good at both English, and Nepali, our native language, and she recognized me for being adept at both. "You have a good command over English - use it! You can write well, speak fluently; what else do you want? Do not waste your talent." Miss Anjana admonished me before signing me up for the recital. I protested weakly; I had never performed on stage before my class, let alone the entire school! However, she said she believed in me, and I couldn't let her down, could I?
After weeks of practice and stammering in front of my classmates, D-day had arrived. Miss Anjana smiled encouragingly at me as I sat, trembling, in the uncomfortable foldable metal chairs in the stage with the other participants. The hall was dark and cold, students and teachers looking expectantly up at us. I resisted the urge to throw up. When my turn came, I stood up shakily, stepped forward, and blurted out my lines. My stage fright took over my mind, and my body took the job onto itself. The audience was a blur of colors, faces indistinct. Somehow I finished the speech, bowed, and unstuck my feet from the ground to go back to my seat, my heart hammering away like a rabbit's the entire time.
It would have been a nice ending to the story to say that everyone was amazed at my performance and they leapt to their feet with thunderous applause, and that I got over my stage fright instantly. But of course that's not what happened. There was polite applause, but the judges were not impressed by my deer-in-the-headlights performance.
I could have been devastated with the failure of my first ever try on stage; I could have walked around with my head in a paper bag the rest of the school year. But here's the thing: I didn't. After the recital had finished and I had regained normalcy enough to think rationally, I realized, well that hadn't been too hard! I hadn't convulsed into fits or caught a Public Speaking Contracted Disease, if it even exists. Even better, Miss Anjana greeted me exultantly offstage, and praised me for my performance. I could get used to that!
Once I had survived the recital intact, I started to reflect a bit more on my stage fright, and eventually found it ludicrous. If everyone cringed from expressing themselves or speaking out in public, how would ideas flow? What if Martin Luther King Jr. had said: "I h-have a dream -" and abruptly run off the podium? How would I ever survive this world without asserting myself?
Overcoming my stage fright is a work in progress. I started pushing myself to do things I wouldn't have dared to. The following year, and the year after that, I took part in One Act plays in my school, one of which even won the Best Play Award. I discovered my love, and a hint of talent, for acting. I realized how fear and nerves had limited my options in life, how I still had so much to discover of myself. Today, I no longer stop myself from doing what I want because I'm too afraid of the "audience". I stand a confident, self-assured person willing to take risks; willing to learn from my mistakes or rejoice at my accomplishments.