"We all face struggles growing up," -- is what I would like to say.
I grew up with a silver spoon in my mouth. I always had new clothes, the latest game consoles, and more importantly, good food on the table. I was spoiled. As a high school student, this was a problem: What do I write for my college personal statement?
Remember that episode of Modern Family where Haley struggles over not having any struggles to write about for her personal statement? Yeah, that was me.
Fortunately, life set me straight during community college. Here's the personal statement that got me into UCLA:
My speech coach all too excitedly told the class he was, "happy to have a gay person on the team; it diversifies us."
I never told him I was gay, to begin with.
In actuality, I identify as bisexual. Today the label is of little concern, but to my newly out of the closet, college-freshman-self it was a big deal.
Being the only non-white person on the team, and a "gay" one at that, my coach felt I gave the team a "competitive edge." Consequently, he continuously pushed me to perform LGBT literature. "You need to look the part. That's what wins," he said as he handed me prose about a transgender. He believed in typecasting. It didn't feel like a criticism, nor did it feel like a compliment. Nevertheless, "discrimination" felt like a long shot. I wanted to succeed on the team, but I didn't want to be limited to gay topics.
Eventually, I confronted my coach, communicating that I refused to perform gay literature just because I was gay myself. Despite allowing me to choose my own pieces, he became less enthusiastic and open to coaching me. As a result, it took a lot of initiative on my part.
Thankfully, I already had experience performing from my years as a band nerd. The meticulousness and persistence I had for music was transferable when attempting to craft and perform a speech. I devoted two hours a day to focus on my speech performances. In order to get feedback, I enlisted the help of my classmates.
My efforts quickly began to pay off. I gained second place at my first tournament at San Francisco State and remained in the top three out of twelve at every competition. Soon after, I moved from Novice to Open where I still managed to maintain a "Finalist" title.
The successes I've experienced in speech has not only improved my public speaking abilities but has given me greater confidence. I've learned to trust my gut and stick with my values. At the end of the day, success has to come from my own decisions. No matter what circumstances should arrive in my life, I'll always trust my ability to take whatever resources I have and make the most out of it.
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