Sound of…Music?

Write about a time you faced difficulty and overcame it. (Common Application)

I wake up an hour before the stampede towards the shower begins in my summer camp residence hall. Quietly, I close my dorm door so as to not startle my week-long roommate awake–I had to be alone. My clothes and towel hang on the stall as I brace for the cold water to tickle my face. But first, I peek outside to reassure myself I’m the only one. I begin softly, hesitant to allow the words to escape my mouth. I become more comfortable, allowing my irreparable voice box to squeak what little lyrics my memory salvaged of the Bob Marley song I had heard the night before. Finally, after a week on campus, I can sing in the shower. A suppressed chuckle makes its way from outside the stall. Immediately I stop, pitying whatever poor soul had to endure my paltry tribute to the Reggae legend. “Somebody call American Idol,” the voice mocks. I would be leaving the campus the following morning. Surely to the dismay of my one-man audience, I unloaded my broken version of the tune once more.

Now, I cannot sing–actually, I do sing, but it would be to disgrace anybody with actual talent to qualify it as that. No matter how hard I try or have tried, the extent of my musical ability is comparable to the stutter of a car before it starts: disjointed, erratic, and undesirable. Nonetheless, I had discovered my voice, just through a different outlet.

It was the week after I was cut from the Men’s Freshman choir: a truly ambitious endeavor that not even the most optimistic would have expected to come to fruition. Forced to scout another activity to occupy myself with, I found myself in front of a pair of judges for my debate team tryout, seemingly a cliche undertaking. (Become a debater, become the next president! Yeah, right.) But I soon fell in love, and developed an infatuation with public speaking. The exhilaration behind being able to manipulate the emotions of my audience–not by the melody or harmony of my voice, but through my ability to effectively articulate and present my ideas–was a foreign yet incomparable thrill. Learning to control and calculate my body language and tone to not only captivate and seize my listeners, but also to craft my content added an entirely new dimension to the way I communicated. No longer was I held to the standard of my dysfunctional larynx; I could alto as far as my ideas allowed me to go.

My love affair with the notion of public speaking expanded as I came to discover its extensions far beyond the debate circuit. Practicing diplomacy at regional conferences and learning to structure my arguments in the courtroom setting helped me further tailor my speaking abilities in a direction I hadn’t been previously exposed to. I soon took advantage of opportunities where I could hone these skills outside the academic realm, delving into the phone centers and door-to-door operations of a senate campaign.

It would still be a blatant lie to tell you I no longer sing. The consistent glares on long car rides, the irritated pleas, the shouts and violent knocks on the door as I belt out the latest hits in the shower serve as constant reminders of my lackluster ability to assemble anything relatively close to a rhythm. But it doesn’t matter–I’ve already found my voice.

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