I’m going to take a risk right now. I’m going to expose myself and share a bit of my soul with the world. So here it is, finally, my college essay. I worked on this for half a year. Each of the 619 words were carefully deliberated, digested, and debated in my mind. What should I say? How can I show who I am, what lies in my bone marrow, without sounding superfluous and fake? This is a battle every student, especially those applying to the United States, has to fight internally. Well, here I go.
The sweat has dried cold on my arms and face. The dampness of my body and the stinging bite from my soaking boots sink me deeper into the snow. I am drowning in my own defeat. Abandoned and miserable, I want to lie down and give up. Gradually, the words come to me. ‘I am a woman. Phenomenally. Phenomenal woman. That’s me”. I would not be shrunken or defeated.
An hour ago the kite and I had sailed over the vast expanse of snow and frozen water. Nothing existed except my arms, my skis, and the kite. The adrenaline rush that I loved so much swelled from my lanky limbs to pounding head. As I twisted the control bar the kite responded graciously; I was dancing on snow. The great Norwegian plateau of Hardangervidda lay before me and all I could see was glistening white snow. Trying to make a U-turn, I pulled the control bar to the right. My skis followed my arms’ command but the kite lived a life of its own. The kite, in its final moment of desperation, came to life and rose high from the snow into the air, like a great fish making its final leap. The wind mocked me and the jolt of sheer force pulled me into the air for a few seconds. I landed on my nose. I had gone from dancing to crashing.
I was never an athlete. Being the tallest girl in all my years at school had not given me the advantage many would expect. I was no basketball player or dancer. My body rejected grace. I was a bundle of awkward. I have always stuck out of the crowd, both literally and figuratively. When I was younger, I despised my height because it set me apart from the others. My shoulders grew customarily hunched and my body concave. Just as my body folded inwards, so did my confidence. I shrank myself to meet what I thought others expected of me, and in the process, I lost my voice. The most important lesson I have learned is that the few inches I lost were not worth the loss of my dignity.
I stand up. Angelou’s words send a surge of energy through my beaten up body. The kite is ready, and so am I. Just as I pull the bar, a strong gust of wind crashes the kite, and I am brought down to my knees. I wipe the melting snow off my face and try again. I am only further humiliated. It was nature against my willpower, but I would not be overpowered. For what felt like hours, I struggle with the disobedient kite until the steady wind finally turns in my favor.
The thrill of accomplishment is the best medicine for the pains, both physical and emotional, of hard work. Failing is critical for all aspects of my life, because every time I fail, I learn and try harder. Even though there is not always wind in my back and beautiful scenery to enjoy, I still get the same thrill of accomplishment from overcoming the fear of failure.
Adrenaline sports have helped me explore my limits and control my fears. Whether it is on the slopes, in a debate, or meeting new people, taking risks always empowers me. Being stuck for hours in an artic winter, miserable and freezing, is not the worst thing that could happen: doubting myself and not embracing my strengths- nor realizing my weaknesses- is.
In the future when I experience failure –as I undoubtedly will- I will raise my head, straighten my spine, and face my opposition head on. I am a tall Norwegian woman, and phenomenally proud of it.