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"Difficulty need not foreshadow despair or defeat." Bikes, Amherst Supplement


mariumi57 3 / 8  
Nov 11, 2010   #1
Hi, I would really appreciate any advice on this essay. Thanks =]

Question: "Difficulty need not foreshadow despair or defeat. Rather achievement can be all the more satisfying because of obstacles surmounted."
Attributed to William Hastie, Amherst Class of 1925, first African-American to serve as a judge for the United States Court of Appeals.


Quite often humans tend to view a problem and immediately classify it as possible or impossible. They too quickly decide that there is no way they can overcome this obstacle and just give up and put it behind them. The real problem they face though is their pessimism, because nothing should ever be considered impossible. With enough heart, passion, and devotion anything is possible and the journey is always worth the destination. The more obstacles a person must face to attain a certain outcome just means they will appreciate their achievement that much more.

One of the most difficult tasks I have come face to face with to date has been the simple task of learning how to ride a bike. It's not a difficult task, per se, but I personally had a very hard time learning how to do so. When I was about 4 or 5 my parents bought me a tricycle, usually the first bicycle a child learns how to ride. Excited, I ran outside and sat on my tricycle ready to ride like the wind. I placed my small, chubby feet on the pedals and tried to push but no matter how hard I pushed the pedals refused to budge. Upset, I stepped off the bike and told my parents that the tricycle was broken. I explained to them that the pedals would not move and they inspected the bike. After a thorough inspection they realized that the bike was perfectly fine and told me to keep trying, I would get it eventually.

Every few days I would sit on my tricycle and whisper to myself that today would be the day, today I would learn how to ride a bike. But every time I would usually end up dragging the bike along the street using my feet instead of the pedals, Flintstones style. Once I outgrew the tricycle, I gave up on learning how to ride a bike. Every summer I would be stricken with jealously as I watched watching children roam the streets on their quick moving bikes knowing I could not do the same.

When I turned 10 I received a two-wheel bicycle for my 10 birthday and instead of being happy, I was just upset. I couldn't believe my parents had wasted their money on something I would never use. My bicycle just sat there month after month and I never touched it: the fear of failure was too strong.

One day I sat by my window and counted how my bikes passed by, in less than a minute 7 bikes passed by and I became angry at myself for giving up on something I wanted so much. I took my bicycle outside and tried once more. The first few times I fell and pretty soon my knees were all scrapped but I kept trying. I don't remember how long it took exactly but at one point I looked down and realized I was moving down the street; the pedals were quickly turning and the wind was pushing my hair behind me.

The fact that I didn't give up on riding a bike is now one of my proudest achievements because of the simple fact that the obstacles passed to get there were so numerous. I've learned that no matter how hard something may seem you should always try it because, who knows, you might just get it right.
Mah_Bad 1 / 5  
Nov 13, 2010   #2
If I'm not mistaken, the Amherst supplement limits you to 300 words. These copy edits should get you started in cutting down to that limit. With that being said, your first paragraph seems unnecessary. It is an oft stated remark, and even the prompt delivers something similar to its message. Starting straight with your anecdote is a stronger lead in. Even then, your story lacks a strong lead to keep the reader interested. Also, I feel you can cut the final paragraph, as it's a cliche statement and that conclusion is expressed by you successfully riding the bike anyways. Best of luck!
EF_Kevin 8 / 13,321 129  
Nov 20, 2010   #3
The more obstacles a person must Facing obstacles to attain a certain outcome just means they will appreciate their achievement that much more.----This is true, but it is also a little too obvious. I think you can say something that is more interesting and meaningful.

Simplify:
One of the most difficult tasks I have come face to face with to date faced has been the simple task of learning how to ride a bike.

It's not a difficult task, per se, but I personally had a very hard time learning how to do so. Do not include unhelpful sentences.

Again, make an effort to be efficient with the use of words:
When I was about 4 or 5 five my parents bought me a

The childhood memory is awesome, and the way you told the story is awesome. I like it a lot!

For this conclusion, I think you can give an insight that is even subtler and more profound. For example, help me with this problem: Even though I know I can succeed if I continue to try, I just can't get myself to keep struggling when I could be doing something I am already good at.

The fact that I didn't give up on riding a bike is now one of my proudest achievements because of the simple.... might just get it right. Can you say something to help someone who knows this but still lacks motivation?

:-)


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