Prompt: Describe the most significant challenge you have faced and the steps you have taken to overcome this challenge.
The Silent Comedian
I can hear the compere shouting at the audience, building up the excitement in the room, announcing my name to the world, and preparing everyone to see what I can do. It's almost time to go onstage for my set. I've got sweaty palms, my knees are weak, and my arms are heavy, but I still feel calm and collected. I'm ready for the limelight and to have everyone's attention focused on me. I'm introduced with an applause from the audience and feel the adrenaline pumping through my veins. I walk onto the stage and stare out into a deep sea of about 20 spectators and can't believe how I got here. It's my first ever stand-up comedy performance, something that I never thought I would have the guts to do. I've overcome my life's greatest obstacle by attacking it head-on.
A lot of people are afraid of public speaking. Unfortunately, I used to be one of those people. Except my dilemma stretched far beyond just a fear of public speaking, I found most situations of social interaction to be an uncomfortable experience. For most of my early years, I kept to myself and was an introverted and quiet kid. I had trouble speaking my opinion in a group setting and taking initiative on everyday tasks in fear of my ideas being rejected and overlooked. I was so afraid of being overlooked by other people that essentially overlooked myself for them. Everyday I would hope and pray that the teacher wouldn't call on me to speak in front of the class; it was a dreadful feeling. I was definitely the type of person that would rather be in the audience than on stage performing for others. I felt lost, like an outcast that couldn't relate with those around me and I struggled finding my own voice.
However, sometime during the 8th grade, I became captivated by comedy. I vividly remember watching Comedy Central on television one day (which somehow did not get blocked by my parents when they were setting up the blocked channels list) and seeing Daniel Tosh make countless jokes and entertain hundreds of people in a large theater. This peaked my interest and I decided to learn more about Tosh. It turned out that he also suffered from social anxiety and has disfavored public speaking at a time in his life. After reading that, I figured that if he can overcome the nervousness that he experienced by performing comedy, then so can I. Just like when Eddie Van Halen picked up a guitar for the first time, it was God's gift to the world when I first became interested in comedy.
Soon after, my history teacher called on me to answer a question in class. He asked, "Rob, who was the leader of the Patriots at the Battle of Bunker Hill?" Instead of feeling fear like I had experienced my whole life when put on the spot like this, I guess that I was feeling a little adventurous (and probably kind of stupid too) as I looked directly into my teacher's eyes with a smile on my face and replied jokingly: "Tom Brady." Everyone in the class laughed at my comment. My teacher, however, did not seem pleased at the time. I guess he wasn't much of a football fan. I understand that I was kind of a turd in class that day, but it was a huge victory for my well being and a step in the right direction of breaking out of the mental prison that I had confined myself to. It seemed like a simple joke to everyone else but to me it felt like I scored the winning touchdown in the Super Bowl. Like seriously, if somebody would have come up to me after making that joke and asked, "Rob, you just told a somewhat funny joke in 8th grade history class, what are you going to do next?" I would have yelled at the top of my lungs "I'm going to Disney World!" My confidence skyrocketed and I used this moment to lay the foundation for the type of person that I aspired to be and leave the person that I was in the past.
Over time, my plan proved to work. I began to find conversations with others to be much easier; they've actually become enjoyable! No longer was I the quiet kid afraid to speak up when I thought that something was wrong. I've realized that I have turned into a leader in my own right, taking control of situations instead of running from them. In turn, this has benefitted my academic achievement as I no longer have reluctant feelings about reaching out to others for help and feedback which has allowed me to edge closer to my full potential. I now have the courage to approach obstacles the same way I approach my comedy performances, which is to attack it head-on. The great Stephen Hawking once said that "quiet people have the loudest minds." Like most things Stephen Hawking talked about, he was right; it is just a matter for quiet people like myself to find a way of bringing that loudness out, a matter of finding their voice.
I think I have a solid intro and body, I just need help wrapping it up and correcting minor grammar errors