and_shi 1 / - Dec 30, 2011 #1This is my personal essay.It would be helpful if anyone would comment on its content and edit it.When I look at my photographs of the 8th grade, I realize how much I have changed since then. I can almost feel the fear lurking behind the smiling eyes of my former self in those pictures. I was a timid boy of 15 then. A boy who had been taught by his parents to follow the lead of his older, a boy who hardly spoke for himself let alone speak publicly in front of my friends and kin. My greatest fear was being called in front of the class to speak about something, anything. And so, it was with great fear and shock that one day, I saw my name posted in a school notice board for the Interschool Speaking Competition.For a few seconds I thought this was the end of the world. I remember asking my friends to go in my stead. I remember requesting my teachers, trying to convince them that I was not the right man for the job, but to no avail. I felt like a lamb waiting for the butcher's knife. I waited, with a heavy heart, fearing the day as it drew closer, but I tried my best to get myself out of the competition everyday till the day of the competition arrived.A 40/60 feet room which accommodated many strange faces, a raised platform that demanded everyone's attention and a shining metal mike which attracted all eyes; and I felt all hope leaving me when I approached them.A surge of anxiety raced through my entire body as I found myself confronting the cacophonous crowd, all immersed in their noisy chatter. I was lost; a bright light shone on me and the world on the other side plunged into darkness. All that I had prepared vanished from my memory. I could feel the cold sweat slide down the back of my neck. Despite the anxiety that was ruining my thinking capacity, I tried to speak. I spoke a few sentences none of which made any sense, not even to me. I could not see the audiences except the white of their gleaming eyes, and they were pointed right at me. I could hear the angry whispers of disappointed teachers from the backstage. Time took its time that day, and it was ages before the warning bell finally rang. And all I had done was blurt out a few dumb sentences in the allotted five minutes. Not even a small fraction of the applause that I had initially received upon my entrance greeted me as I left, but I could hear the disappointed whispers that surrounded me.This happened every time I tried to deliver a speech. Although I tried my best, nothing ever changed except the crowd. Each one of these disheartening events made me think of what Seneca once said "When I think over what I have said, I envy dumb people." That was when I decided to remain dumb. I stopped participating in the competitions and presentations and went back to my former withdrawn self, and I found an impressive-sounding word to describe my problem: Anthropophobia.I hid behind this word for almost 3 more years. Anthropophobia became a word that I frequently used to conceal my low self esteem.I transferred to Budhanilkantha as a junior student. It was a happy school, nice community and very quiet. But this fairyland turned into a horror house when I found out that in the English classes every student had to deliver a short speech, each week. For the first few classes, I refrained from giving speeches in class using different excuses. Then, I tried to hide myself from the eyes of the teacher hoping to be spared. After that I even skipped most of the english classes.However, it was impossible to avoid lessons forever. It would certainly hurt my grades. So, I was compelled to attend the English classes regularly and therefore, to deliver speeches in class. For the first few months I found it very difficult and gave some ridiculous speeches only lasting a few seconds. Bursts of laughter from my friends made me even more nervous. I tried everything that would increase my confidence to speak in front of the people. I gave several speeches standing in front of the mirror. I gave speeches in front of my roommates thinking they were the same people. That was when I sensed a low progress in my speeches. It was very slow indeed, but it was there. I could really feel my progress. I drew less laughs now and I continued on my attempts to improve my ability to face the audience. And slowly, all my hard work started paying off. By the end of the first year, I could see a distinct change in my personality.I was on my way to become a good orator.In my senior year, I went to India to participate in the 2nd International Young Mathematicians' Convention. After winning a silver medal in the competition, the organizers asked me to share my learning and experiences throughout the event in front of the audience. I seized the opportunity enthusiastically because by then I was neither nervous nor a phobia victim. For the second time in my life I spoke in front of what may be called a big audience, but unlike the last time, my speech was greeted with a distinct applause. That was when I realized my phobia was cured.Nowadays, I grab every little opportunity I get. Seeing my old photographs makes me smile now. I have started making my own decisions and I have come to realize my potential to lead. I feel like a butterfly which has just broken out of its cocoon and I am still learning how to fly. It's a hard job but I am a leader now, a bold experimenter of new ideas, and I face problems now with confidence in myself. . I have spoken in many press conferences for my clubs and organizations. I have participated in many competitions. But I still like a big audience. An audience representing people from several countries and ethnicity. An audience like a diverse community of your college.