Evaluate a significant experience, achievement, risk you have taken, or ethical dilemma you have faced and its impact on you.

I would have never expected my life to change dramatically after a trip to the men’s room. However, on June 20, 2007, one did. I overheard a conversation that changed my point of view on nearly everything. “He didn’t even make it to Extemp Semifinals. Frankly I knew he wasn’t really that great of a speaker,” said the first young competitor. “Well, he may do okay in Impromptu,” replied the second one. “Only if the competition is mediocre,” said the first speaker as he was washing his hands. Then they both belted out a haughty laugh sending chills deep into my spine. I, Andrew Hosea, was eliminated from Extemp at Octafinals and would soon compete in another category, Impromptu. Feeling demoralized and downtrodden, I wondered how I would regroup for my upcoming Impromptu rounds at the national convention the following week. Often, people change when they least expect it. Here I was a two-time national qualifier, the top speaker at my school, arguably one of the top speakers in town and I had been feeling like I was on top of the world. Initially, I felt much pride for my accomplishments. However, upon leaving that somewhat moldy and musty high school bathroom, I saw my self-esteem and confidence evaporate before my eyes quicker than water in the Mojave Desert. Following that experience, existential thoughts began to cloud my mind. Was I really good enough? How could two people talk so callously about achievements that I strived for and often dreamed of obtaining? My confidence was on a roller coaster, and I began to doubt myself in other endeavors as well. I wondered how I could be successful, which led me to the even deeper question of what being successful really meant. Oddly enough, on another trip to the bathroom (this time on my own turf) which lately had seemed to become an unusual place of reflection and understanding, I reached a climax in this life changing event. I realized that success and accomplishment are ambiguous. As the old cliché goes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. After reading countless success stories of people that achieved momentous triumphs in many unique and individual ways, I realized there is no standard definition of success. Lately it had been a monstrous creation contrived in my mind. Each and every person has his or her own love and passion, meaning that each person has his or her own distinct way and opportunity to be successful. I realized that I am what I love. I am my passions. As Benjamin Disraeli eloquently said, “Man is only truly great when he acts from the passions.” With this insight and newfound confidence, I walked with my head held higher than ever before.I am civic minded; I love my involvement in speech, debate, politics, history, scouting and anything else that relates to public policy and social issues. I now know that as long as I am adamant in my pursuits, I will succeed. Only when I let myself become free the from the competitive winner-take-all societal attitude could I realize my full potential and allocate my energy where it really belonged. It takes such knowledge to stand firm in the face of doubt and uncertainty. It takes this wisdom and commitment to stand back up, give it my all, and take eighth at a national championship tournament. But nonetheless, I learned it is not what rank I hold, what title is mine, or any other attempt to quantify human accomplishment; it is what I love that truly matters. I love the social sciences and I know one day I will use this passion to make a positive impact on society long after my days participating in national high school competitions.

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