After the Fire

The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?

The world was closing in and the flame of desire to be a beautiful fire dancer was rapidly burning out with every shallow, poorly-oxygenated breath that I took. I was my own show, and not the one my parents drove three hours to come and see as my last ever summer camp performance. Full-on panic ensued; my counselor took me off of the stage and put me on a golf cart; as the night ended I was the accidental, unplanned encore that the whole camp ogled at as they left the circus arena. However, at that moment, I didn’t know that my biggest perceived failure ultimately sparked my biggest period of personal growth.

Three weeks earlier, I had confronted my seven-year fear of fire dancing. I was both terrified and fascinated by the apparent danger. But, fully embracing that it was my last summer at camp, I suffered through the audition and by some miracle I ended up playing with a tennis ball doused in lighted kerosene. My reaction to the ball of light was completely opposite to those around me; instead of the radiant smiles that illuminated my groupmates’ faces, my eyes clouded with tears as the ball slipped through my shaking hands and my fear paralyzed me. Alas, the bright burning ball at which I had stared for years continued to...

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