I'm trying to figure out what to do next. One idea has been a return to school and in applying I have been vigorously writing essays. I finished my last one tonight, appropriately enough by reflecting back on my most important extracurricular activities. So for all of those music teachers and debate coaches out there, thank you:
As an active and artistic individual, extra-curricular activities have developed my interest in the world and my ability to make my mark on the world. Of the myriad activities I enjoy, debate and music are the most influential on my success and self-development.
My curiosity in hearing and discussing the pros and cons of everything from politics to pop culture developed through my participation in debate and speech activities. As a young high school student I learned the art of public speaking and listening through forensic activities. I studied the science of argumentation and performance, encouraging me to speak in public and engage politically, and developed quick thinking and teamwork skills. I succeeded in debate and speech, reaching the semi-finals at the national tournament and developing a curiosity to learn more about the world. Today I seek to educate myself and participate in thorough discussions of current events thanks to debate. I also have the confidence and skills to think deeply about issues and succinctly share my point of view. These skills are building blocks as I use my voice and reasoning to positively change the world.
Debate may have sharpened my mind, but music has shaped my heart, mind, and soul. From an early age I learned the joy of expressing myself through music. Whether on the piano, guitar, trumpet, harmonica, or with my voice, I have constantly turned to music as a source of inspiration and expression. Years of music lessons have taught me self-discipline and patience; years of performance have instilled confidence and a desire to collaborate with others. Thinking and expressing myself creatively has given me the ability to attack problems from imaginative points of view, as I am accustomed to free thinking, improvisation, and collaboration. This tendency towards collaboration and emotional expression has also been an effective means to breakdown supposed barriers. Regardless of linguistic, cultural, or age differences, I have quickly made friends and found common ground by playing and discussing music. My experience in music has thus prepared me to work with others to achieve goals unattainable to a single individual. Letting go of control and acting as a single part of a bigger whole, as one does in musical ensembles, is an essential skill to create real change to problems that are too big for one person to solve. Finally, music is a refuge of solace. Through music I have maintained sanity and peace through trying times and have learned to manage stress, anger, and ecstasy.
Debate and music are important activities that continue to shape who I am today. I have reached success in terms of winning competitions and traveling internationally to participate in extra-curricular activities, but more rewarding has been the personal development gained from debate and music. I am more active in the world, more skilled at activating the world, and able to react to the world thanks to my participation in activities outside of work.