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College Application Essay

When I think of a challenge that I have faced, the prominent one that comes to mind is

how I overcame my social anxiety and learned how to control my emotions. Throughout middle

school, I struggled to control my feelings. When I messed up, felt embarrassed, or received

criticism, I cried. When I began high school, the new environment and new sources of stress

amplified my negative emotions. Simply the thought of someone looking at me made me

nervous.

Freshman year I began to experience the physical effects of constant anxiety. Any time I

felt anxious in class, a fiery bolt of pain traveled up my spine and throughout my body. As the

year progressed, this pain became more intense and frequent. During a trip to the doctor, I

learned that my pain originated in my adrenal glands. The adrenaline-producing walnut-sized

glands above my kidneys were strained by perpetual anxiety. Social interactions felt like sticking

a fork in a light socket. Simply rising from my desk and walking to the pencil sharpener felt like

a herculean task. My body was telling me to recoil from my pain and avoid social interaction, but

what would be the long-term consequences of giving in to my anxiety? How many opportunities

would I miss?

I decided that anxiety had already controlled too much of my life, and I would not let it

determine my future. To overcome this obstacle, I had to stretch outside of my comfort zone and

face my fear. I challenged myself to initiate at least five social interactions every day. When a

wave of anxiety and pain hit me, I immersed myself in it, calmly counting to ten and telling

myself that anxiety was a positive feeling, not a negative one. My techniques helped, but I knew

I needed to take greater steps to overcome my anxiety.


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At the end of freshman year, I gathered the courage to run for student government.

During the campaigning process, I went around in each of my classes and asked my classmates

to vote for me. No matter how fast my heart pounded or my hands sweated, I kept smiling and

talking. The work I put in paid off, and I got elected into student senate. This small victory over

my anxiety showed me that progress was possible.

My term as a Student Senator began sophomore year. Being a senator meant taking on

new responsibility. Social interaction was mandatory, and I had to become more independent.

My back pains began to occur less frequently, slowly fading away. I felt confident enough to do

what I was afraid of freshman year and I sang in the talent show and participated in the school

musical. By the end of the year, my anxiety had improved enormously, but I knew I needed to

keep pushing.

My junior year I decided to take an advanced theatre class. Unlike my classmates who

wanted to improve their acting skills, I used this class as a safe place for me to unlearn the

unhealthy thoughts I had about social interactions and improve my public speaking skills. Every

week I gave monologues and performed sketches for my class. When I felt nervous, I made

myself volunteer to go first and I put effort into each character I played. If the script called for an

outrageous accent, then that is what I preformed no matter how embarrassing it felt. I learned

that being socially vulnerable was not scary like I had believed it to be. As the year progressed, I

felt more confident and less afraid. Social anxiety disappeared from my conscience.

When I began my journey, I felt as if the challenge I faced was impossible. Looking

back, I am proud of what I have accomplished. Overcoming my social anxiety taught me that,

with persistence and hard work, I will always conquer the challenges I face.
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