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MacaulayHonorSupp; "I am picturing everyone in the audience in their underwear."


imas 1 / 2  
Dec 6, 2009   #1
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

phoenix70 1 / 4  
Dec 6, 2009   #2
This sentence could use revision. "I went on stage and stood up confidently, articulated my arguments masterfully, and spoke to the audience powerfully". There are too many adverbs.

What I would say instead is "I went up on stage and spoke with confidence and power, and I argued with excellent articulation".
Logical_Fella_C - / 33  
Dec 7, 2009   #3
I am picturing everyone in the audience in their underwear.

What do you mean? Why would you do that? No offense, but while I found this to be somewhat funny, I don't see what this has to do with the rest of your essay. It sounds so random.

Also, the use of past tense is more appropriate when describing your experience in the first tournament.

Most importantly, I don't think you actually answered the prompt. You are supposed to "identify a significant risk/intellectual experience you have taken/gone through and how it has changed your life." I can see that what you experienced did change your life in some ways, but it seems to me that your experience with the tournaments is neither a risk nor an "intellectual" experience. Now, don't get me wrong. I certainly do think debating is something usually intellectually engaging. However, from the way you described your experience, I don't really get a sense of intellectual engagement. Okay. I may be overanalyzing.

Hope this helps.
OP imas 1 / 2  
Dec 7, 2009   #4
I went on stage and stood up confidently, articulated my arguments masterfully, and spoke to the audience powerfully

I actually got that sentence from an AP English teacher of mine, he said that using three adverbs in parallel construction would prove to make a powerful sentence. I can see where you're coming from, but the majority of people I've asked have pointed out that it's a powerful sentence due to the use of adverbs in parallel structure.

The underwear thing was based off of a common saying for public speaking - "imagine the crowd in their underwear." It's supposed to help you relax and get over stage fright. About the past tense thing, I tried to have it go from present tense and then shift to past tense to kinda make it more interesting to read. Would it be better if I just kept it past tense throughout?

And hmm... I see what you're saying about the prompt. My thought process was: an intellectual experience? A debate tournament (CUNYs do have debate tournaments, and they're rigorously intellectual, trust me. AP Tests and SATs are nothing compared to a debate tournament where everything has to be done on the fly.): that's intellectual. A debate tournament, an intellectual experience, changed my life. How? By helping me get over stage fright and giving me confidence. That was the message I was getting at... think I can change something up to make it more obvious as to how the tournament was an intellectual experience?

I appreciate the comments & criticism :)
Logical_Fella_C - / 33  
Dec 7, 2009   #5
The underwear thing was based off of a common saying for public speaking - "imagine the crowd in their underwear." It's supposed to help you relax and get over stage fright.

Oh, man... Yea, I was probably the only one confused... yet again. Sorry for my ignorance. I'm not too familiar with the art of public speaking. :/

About the past tense thing, I tried to have it go from present tense and then shift to past tense to kinda make it more interesting to read.

I kind of sensed that too while I was reading it. But it just seemed a tad awkward to me that you swtiched from the present tense and then to the past, when the actual order of the events was past to more recent past. So... I don't know.

About the intellectual part...

I can change something up to make it more obvious as to how the tournament was an intellectual experience?

I think so...
EF_Kevin 8 / 13,337 129  
Dec 8, 2009   #6
"I am picturing everyone in the audience in their underwear."

Do you think the title is better if we scratch out those words?
OP imas 1 / 2  
Dec 9, 2009   #7
It sure is! Thanks, I changed it. Do you think I could have something better as my title, though?
EF_Kevin 8 / 13,337 129  
Dec 11, 2009   #8
Hmmm.. well, when I was in theatre in high school, I also heard that advice about imagining them in their underwear.. so... it might be better to change the title to something clever that makes the reader want to know more... but I don't know what the title should be! You should think of one that sees right! Sometimes you have to wait for inspiration to come...


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