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Welcome to 1800Wheelchair.ca Fall '16 Scholarship

 

Topic

Topic: Please submit a 'visual poem', in a style of your choosing, on the theme of overcoming a personal challenge.

Statement from 1800wheelchair

1800wheelchair is very proud to announce the winner of our Fall '16 scholarship contest. With many entries, this one stood apart for its interesting visuals and compelling story.

Winning Submission: Personal Statement

The worst place to feel alone is in a crowd. My greatest challenge was not any test of the mind or physical feat; rather, it was in overcoming the part of my personality that stops me from achieving my goals. Everyone experiences doubts that can prevent them from taking risks, having confidence, and speaking out. Our greatest obstacle is ourselves. We can only move forward once we are able to recognize our weaknesses and confront our fears.

In my poem, I used a monster as a metaphor for doubts and fears. My poem reflects my own experiences of suffering from and trying to overcome my lack of confidence. I wrote about a ravenous beast that follows me, dragging me away from goals, filling me with doubts, and making me quiet and weak. The turning point came when I realized that I will never escape until I confront the beast and take control. That monster is my shyness and low self-esteem. The confrontation, then, was internal: I finally realized that I needed to be stronger, trust in my own abilities, and face my fears head on. Similarly, in my artistic piece, the mixed medium (oil pastel, chalk pastel, pencil) piece represents me leaving the well-trodden road overshadowed by fear and doubt, stepping into the light of self-belief and knowledge. The lantern I hold reflects my heritage and initial struggles as a poor immigrant and visible minority, while also representing the act of taking control of my future to light the way forward.

I have always been a quiet child, but my shyness became an obstacle. My parents immigrated to Canada when I was young to provide me with a better life, but it brought many changes. I faced racism, discrimination, and poverty, yet couldn’t express myself as I couldn’t speak English. While I quickly became fluent (and now consider English to be one of my best subjects), I never forgot the difficulties I faced due to my language barrier. I have great respect for the challenges that people face in expressing themselves, whether because of cultural differences or disability. Even after my period of miscommunication, however, I continued to be shy and withdrawn. My ‘monster’ of self-doubt and lack of confidence began to interfere. In elementary school, I was scared of public speaking, shy even among my friends, and often found myself frozen and unable to speak up for what I believed in.

In high school and university, I finally faced my ‘monster’. I realized that to be successful and fulfilled, I needed to change my attitude and get involved. I endeavoured to take more risks, have more confidence in myself, and make a difference in my community. My personal challenge was to overcome my low self-esteem and get out of my comfort zone by talking to new people and taking leadership roles. I joined student council, DECA (a business club), the school newspaper, and the badminton team. I practiced clear communication and public speaking, and took on leadership and volunteer roles. By the time I was in grade twelve, I was vice president of my school’s business club, events coordinator for student council, and 2-time president/editor-in-chief of my school newspaper. I even competed in debate tournaments (placing in the top 4) and business competitions which involved presentations and community advocacy (placing in the top ten in the world!). Because I identified my weaknesses, I was able to make goals about fixing them.

Today, I’m not as afraid to take risks or speak my mind. I’m currently working as an advocate for cancer screening and prevention at my local hospital, I’m vice president of a university club, and I still maintain an average of over 90%. My shyness has not gone away. Nor have my doubts completely disappeared. But since I was able to confront my monsters, I can move beyond nerves. I’m confident that I have the strength to pursue my goals, despite any fears or challenges that come my way.

 

Winning Submission: Visual Poem

An Internal Confrontation

 

The monster at my heels

lopes hungrily in my wake.

He shadows every step,

ravenous for the fluttering beat of my heart,

the sweat of my fears, the salt of my tears.

He makes my feet shuffle listlessly

when in my heart I long to leap.

He drags me down with the weight of inadequacy,

Makes my stomach sink, limbs tremble, voice weak.

He sinks in his scraggly claws and guts me

when I’m down.

 

His ragged voice whispers of

mediocrity,

monotony,

fear.

He prowls after me ceaselessly,

finds me in my darkest moments, pollutes my greatest triumphs.

And so I tread cautiously, retreat into my shell,

yet still the monster follows.

He flaunts my every weakness, knows my every fear,

And then I finally think,

So be it.

 

I have been quiet for too long,

been downtrodden and weak,

never tested my strength for fear that it’s not enough.

No more.

I am in control of my own fate.

If I fall, it will be on my terms.

I face down the monster always behind me

And drown out his roar with my own.

He is doubt and nerves and shame.

He is everything I hate in myself

but I am stronger than my doubts.

 

I am light and dreams and risk.

I will climb ever higher,

I will not concede,

I will not let my voice and my will

be suppressed by the monster that whispers, “can’t”.

And if that monster nipping at my heels tries to drag me down with doubts,

mire my soul in weakness,

silence my voice through fear…

 

Well, he’ll have to catch me first.