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Common App Essay a moment of epiphany

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Edited by: Moderator  Dec 18, 08, 09:52am



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Once upon a time, I was unable to smile. Yes, I could pull a muscle or two in my face to make that c-shaped line, but I could never do it from my heart. Friends and family initially attributed my sadness to my estrangement with my father and my mother's death. It was never about that. While I missed my mother and mourned the dad I never had, I felt ...inadequate. I felt incomplete as a person. Nobody else knew because I kept it to myself. Although I portrayed the picture of a confident and happy teenager, I did not always feel that way.

Some people take their lives for granted. Others, like me, dictate expectations to ourselves and dissatisfaction results. That was my mistake. I never acknowledged my blessings, my strengths, the inner me that I now see. My family and friends constantly told me that they saw me for who I am but I never realised it. I faked a lot of laughs and smiles... until fate decided to uncover the beauty in me right before my eyes.

I would like to take this opportunity to share my miracle, my 'light bulb' moment with you.

I had good friends in high school. We had our fun; we would laugh and fool around doing the craziest things. We would take pictures on the highway, set the frogs in the Biology lab loose and make loud noises in class. There was only one problem. They were just like me. We came from the same community, the same schools, and had almost identical personalities. We were all insecure about the same thing: Ourselves. While we appreciated each other's friendships, we were never able to make each other feel unique, individual, original.
I was the girl who got the A in math, the girl the teacher doted on, the girl who took piano lessons. I was even the girl who was actively involved with community service and displayed leadership through projects she put her heart and soul into. Yet, I was still insecure about my personality, my looks, my weight and just everything else about me. I could never look like Gisele Bundchen in a dress. I was just ordinary, boring like a piece of cardboard.
Or so I thought.

In late 2007 I received a call from 'fate'. I had been shortlisted to go on the Youth Study and Exchange Program to the United States for six months where I would live with a host family and attend an American high school. Yes, I know what you are probably thinking: this was her miracle. However, that was not the case. While the exchange helped me open up and speak for my country as well as meet with the most amazing family and high school friends in Pennsylvania, it was the friendships I had formed with my fellow Malaysian exchange students that brought out the Carishma in me.

We had met some months ago, when we had our interviews. We were from different states, with different ideas of what the United States would be like. Some of us were total opposites. Some of us came across as drama queens while others decided to play the silent card. I suppose all we got were glimpses of each other.

Then it came to the pre-departure orientation. The forty of us who had been shortlisted would be spending a week of orientation in Malaysia and in Washington D.C together. There was even a thirty-five hour flight (with transits of course) involved. I was a little anxious at the thought of spending that much time with people I hardly knew.

I had never been so wrong about anything in my entire life. I firmly believe that something magical happened during that week because we bonded, like a family. I am not saying that all forty of us suddenly realised that we were the best things that ever happened to each other. In fact, it was just a small group of us who realised that our different personalities complemented each other so very well.

We were The Effervescent Eight. Cheryl was the loud, Indie-loving girl who lived on impulse. Wai Quai was the sweetheart, the listener, the confidant. Joe was the preppy goofball, who was funny without even trying to be. Syeera was the girl with the pre-conceived American accent! Irham was the fashion conscious boy who owned more Gucci and Prada than any of us girls did! Albert was the perspicacious one, the one whose blog became the talk of the town. There was Andrew, whose jokes were so obscure that people questioned the way his mind worked. Finally, there was me. The one who suddenly began to feel that she had found herself a group of people of made her feel unique, who felt that she had something to offer this motley crew: herself.

It was my moment of epiphany. They made me feel beautiful. They made me feel not so boring after all. I remember Cheryl telling me one day that I was so beautiful inside and out that she could not believe I had never been in a relationship before. Syeera told me that I always made her laugh with my wit. Albert told me that I had a brilliant mind.

What surprised me most was the fact that the epiphany was not just circumscribed to how I felt about myself. They made me realize how fortunate I am in terms of my family and education. Wai Quai had lost her father. Her mother, the sole breadwinner, was all she had. I realised how lucky and unique I was because I had a whole extended family behind me. Some of them were worried about college and how they would cope. I, on the other hand have been preparing for college my entire life. I felt bad for undervaluing my life when I had so much going for me. I now thank God for it all.

Throughout that week, we bonded and created friendships that were bound to last a lifetime. When we had to go our separate ways in the U.S, we cried so hard. We bade each other goodbye knowing that we would be seeing each other again in six months.

Today, we continue to maintain close friendships with each other.
I can safely say that I have now learned to laugh with my heart. Humor has become something I live by. Inner happiness is something I am proud to say that I now feel. I am forever grateful to these few good people who have shown me that life is not black and white. Each person is truly unique and special in their own way. We are all different shades of the rainbow and together, we are one.
Comment on this essay in the following ways:

  1. Does it answer the prompt well?

  2. Highlight 5 lines of text that indicate that the voice of the writer is unique, not generic. Why did you choose these lines of text? What do they say about the writer?

  3. What 2 or 3 moments does the writer reveal that help lead her to her ultimate moment of epiphany?

  4. What is described by the writer as her ultimate moment of epiphany?

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