PROMPTThomas Edison failed many times before successfully inventing the modern electric light bulb. He said, "If I find 10,000 ways something won't work, I haven't failed. I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is another step forward." Reflect on a challenge you overcame through persistence
"His palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy" I could not help but smirk at those lyrics of 'lose yourself-Eminem' at that instant. Yet I was in a dire strait...it was a Sunday afternoon and I was taking the exams to obtain my brown-belt in ju-jitsu. The exams had started at eight in the morning and it had since then been six hours of intense physical activity with only a ten minute break each hour. However the sensei had saved the best for last. Up next was the exercise that had been my undoing the previous two times I had taken the exams.
I advanced to the centre of the tatami. I was surrounded by five black-belts all ready for a big fight. It was me against five black-belts who were each going to attack in turn. The sensei waited for everybody to get in guard stance and then gave his green light for the fight to begin. My first opponent came in with a quick double punch. I blocked the first one but the second punch connected with my chin and sent me sprawling. Five seconds inside the fight and I had already been floored. The sensei grabbed me by the hair, pulled me up and said: "I'll give you one last chance. Either you last five minutes or you fail."
The moment I went to ground a feeling of helplessness had seized me. The three months of extra training following my second failed attempt had been rendered totally obsolete in the blink of an eye. The difference in strength, rapidity and technical ability between my opponents and me was still too great. I just could not see how I was going to last those five minutes...but I had been given one last chance and I had to make the most of it.
I shook off my fatigue, rid myself of my negative thoughts and reclaimed my place at the center of the tatami. A first punch; I countered it, a second punch; I blocked it. The third move came from an opponent on my right side. It was a powerful and well placed mid-kick which I only managed to dodge sideways but that signalled the end of the warming up. The sensei gave the sign to raise the tempo and as from that moment the punches and the kicks started to literally rain on me. Only this time I changed tactics. Instead of defending myself like on my previous fights, I went to the encounter of my opponents, all instincts of self-preservation abandoned. My sudden spurt in aggressivity surprised them. They were more cautious when attacking and as a result I got more time in between the attacks and more space to manoeuvre. That said they were still black-belts and for every punch I gave I received five.
Time passed...one minute...two minutes... I clenched my teeth and pushed aside my pain...three minutes... I was running on reserves...four minutes...I was sickened. I had lost all lucidity. The only thing I knew was that I had to remain on my feet...four minutes thirty seconds...almost there...and finally I heard the sensei say" STOP". I was burned out. The exams were finally over and this time I knew I had succeeded. I would have screamed at the top of my lungs had it been permitted.
Those five minutes have been the longest of all my life. What I retain from it is that at some point in life we are all faced with adversity. If at that point we lack courage, strength of will or desire we can easily fail. In my case I could have let my head drop when I went to ground the first time. Although it would have been the easiest thing to do, I would have done a great disservice to myself considering all the efforts I had put in my training. I'm sure Rocky would have agreed to that statement. Just like him I've had my fair share of setbacks. I'll have even more in the future but just as him I look forward to challenges because they are an opportunity to prove to myself my self-worth.
What do you think of the essay?Does it answer the prompt correctly? Thanks
I would have screamed at the top of my lungs had it been permitted.
I'd rather go with allowed instead of permitted but I think it's more a personal preference. Overall, this is good
I think it answers the prompt, but maybe if you have extra words to elaborate on what you learned from your experience and how to apply that to other challenges you will face in the future. (You touch on it towards the end)
Thanks for the review.
Do you think I can use the essay for my University of Pennsylvania optional essay?
You have just completed your 300-page autobiography. Please submit page 217
Well... if you are creative, you can give it an introduction that makes it sound like a page from a biography... but if you are creative, you can write a great new essay, too! If you feel inspired, writing is easy. I think you should write an essay about where you will be 15 years from now -- in the middle of your career with their school as your background and the foundation of your expertise.