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USC Essay - Relfect on a Challenge: Surfing

brngmchllthhrzn 2 / 2  
Nov 28, 2009   #1
Does it answer the prompt? What can I add/elaborate on?


Thomas 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

Water is the element that sustains life; however, my experiences with water have put me in situations where I struggled to survive. I have tried my fair share of water activities such as competitive swimming, water polo, and wakeboarding, but each ended with disastrous results. The worst was a trip to Hawaii where an unforgiving wave knocked me off my feet and pulled me into the ocean. The current was so strong that I thought my fear of death by drowning would come true at that instant. After trying to anchor myself by clawing at the sand, my father pulled me to safety. Since then, I have been uncomfortable in water, especially if my feet cannot touch the ground.

This past summer, I decided to take another chance at the ocean and try my hand at surfing. I was hesitant to make this decision because of my past experiences but the reassurance of the instructor made me comfortable with the risk I was about to take. As I climbed onto my board, I knew this was not going to be easy. My arms quickly tired after the first few strokes and my face had already been hit by heaps of salt water; yet I continued to paddle out into the vast ocean. When we reached a calmer part of the water, my instructor talked me through the steps of mounting the board. "Just like we practiced," he said as I looked at him with a worried expression, "You're going to be fine. If you think you're going to fall, just fall off." That was easy for him to say, but I was doubtful I would be able to do as he coached me.

Moments after, my teacher told me I was going to ride the next wave. Though hesitant, I felt an extra push on my board as I glided along the water. I heard his shouts in the background but could not make out what he was saying so I followed the steps that we had practiced: paddle, balance, mount, stand up. "Just like snowboarding," I told myself. To my surprise, I had successfully ridden the wave and descended into the water as the wave died out. Ecstatic from my accomplishment, I used all my strength to paddle back out to the calmer waters. Regardless of my past experience, I was able to overcome my fear and take a chance - or so I thought.

My next few attempts were washouts. Though mildly discouraged, I decided to try it one more time. I received the same push on my board and just like previous failures, plunged into the crashing waves. But this time, I was not able to escape the set of waves as easily as I had the others. When I managed to break the water's surface and gasp for air or yell for help, another wave would crash onto me, pushing me back to the bottom of the ocean. While engulfed by the waves, I had an existential crisis and revelation. In a sense, I was entirely free, yet constrained by my watery circumstances. I was free to make the decision whether to fight for my life or cave into my fear and allow Mother Nature to toss me around in the water. In order to survive, I had to fight through the challenges that faced me; the only way I could confront my fear was to take a chance and leap into the unexpected.

While struggling out of the waves, I realized I was alone but surrounded, powerful but overpowered. I had the physical power to swim out of the breaks, but I also had the power to determine the direction of my future. I could either sink or swim. By taking another chance in the ocean, I asserted my confidence by stepping outside of my comfort zone to try something new despite my past experiences. As an individual, I know I cannot always rely on others and that I must fight through my own struggles, but I am also not afraid to ask for help and guidance when I need it.
pacers7ind 11 / 25 2  
Nov 28, 2009   #2
Your essay catches my attention from the start.
Last year I was in a USC program and they told me not to mention the quote that goes with the prompt like you did in the beginning.

I think you need to elaborate more on how you will apply it to life in the last paragraph.
EF_Kevin 8 / 13,321 129  
Nov 30, 2009   #3
reassurance from the instructor...

The first line of this is a little weak. Water is not the only element that sustains life... you can say water is a slife-sustaining element.

Ecstatic about my accomplishment, I used all my strength to paddle...

Nice ending. As you look at it again, I wonder if you'll think of ways to make that swimming metaphor (i.e. in the direction of your future) even better, clearer.

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