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I stepped up onto the podium and listened to the rumble of conversations hush almost instantly. The room was full—packed so that everywhere I looked, the eyes of a stranger stared back at me. I glimpsed the flashing red lights of several recording cameras and felt the thick layer of expectation that was eminent in the air. It was the fourteenth round at the 2013 National Speech and Debate Tournament, and my partner Zoe and I had gone farther than we had ever dared to imagine. I could almost hear my pulse throbbing through my body as I arranged my papers, set my timer, and prepared to deliver the first speech. Some people, upon experiencing this dizzying rush of pounding energy may be tempted to label it as detrimental, a sign of debilitating nervousness. That final round could have been one of the most terrifying experiences of my life. Instead, I launched into the speech, harnessing my overwhelming love for debate and the rapt attention of the audience, and ultimately recognizing all of my anticipation as a product of my overwhelming excitement.
In my life, I chase what excites me.
For me, passion entails the thrill of a challenge, the opportunity to overcome odds that previously seemed insurmountable. One of my earliest childhood memories is of climbing around the huge model of the Swiss Family Robinson Tree House in Disney World. I was always fascinated by architecture and have countless journals of the sketches of different structures I have devised over the years. They range from the shaky doodles of tree-forts in a sprawling kindergartner’s hand to intricate blueprints that were meticulously traced out as I gained experience. There is a fine line between obsession and passion, and all through elementary and middle school I perfected my favorite designs, until finally during sophomore year all of my bottled enthusiasm exploded and I started to build. Despite having no experience in carpentry, for weeks I wielded hammer and nails and toiled over my structure, until finally I produced the end result: a 5-foot by 8-foot tiny house. Despite the extensive and exhausting nature of my endeavor, the project only barely whet my appetite.
So I started building a bigger one.
This time, my efforts are a part of my senior thesis, an independent research project conducted in conjunction with an architecture firm in my area. The plans are much more in depth. Sketches fill every spare piece of paper that finds its way into my hands—drawings of the interior, exterior, loft, tiny kitchen, all of the different window arrangements and the angle of the roof. Simply put, I love it.
I debate so that I can explain my ideas and thoughts and execute them. I build tiny houses because one day I would like to design compact affordable homes and shelters for disaster victims. However, unconsciously, I do what I do because my passions propel me forward, and I could not imagine doing anything else.
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