Identify a significant risk/intellectual experience you have taken/gone through and how it has changed your life.
I am picturing everyone in the audience in their underwear. I have cleared my throat too many times; one more and the audience will think I'm choking. I am glad I don't have to speak with a microphone, because it would slip out of my sweaty palms. The confidence I had just an hour ago has dug itself a hole and is racing away as seconds turn to minutes. I look over at my father, sitting in the front row, proudly holding up a video camera. I catch his eye and he weakly smiles at me. My well thought out arguments race through my head, begging to come out of my mouth. Finally, I start to speak. My arguments come out incoherently; my voice is barely a whisper. Once I finish, I make my way back to my seat as the audience pitifully claps for me. I spent days preparing for the debate tournament, only to be awarded with embarrassment.
Although my first tournament provided me with a lifetime's worth of humiliation, I was determined to redeem myself. I told my coach to sign me up for the next debate tournament. The New York Urban Debate League tournament consisted of three debate rounds, all of which required the debaters to do extensive research on the welfare system prior to the tournament. Doing the research was just the appetizer. The main course consisted of debating against other students while having a panel of judges listening to your every word. Before I got on stage, I told myself my speech wasn't going to be a rerun of my last humiliating episode. I went on stage and stood up confidently, articulated my arguments masterfully, and spoke to the audience powerfully. This tournament was one I was proud to invite my father to. Seeing the grin on his face when I was called up as the first place debater made my success even sweeter.
Since then, I've had a new perspective on failing. The two tournaments brought about drastically different results, but together, they helped me understand an essential principle of life. I now understand that if you can learn from your mistakes, you can never lose. Failing at the first tournament gave me the motivation to succeed at the second tournament. The confidence from winning the second tournament changed me into a different person; it allowed me to break out of my shell. I climbed the ranks of our school's debate team, eventually becoming the captain of the team. Even though I humiliated myself at the first tournament, it is a tournament I've never regretted attending... as long as nobody finds that video tape.
comments/criticism/a good title would be much appreciated