Karthik Iyer — Common Application

Essay:

Tick tock goes the clock, do I take the risk or do I not…?

Before me lies a world of water sealed by the waves crashing against the boat. Do I go in or do I not? I gaze at the circling sharks, close my eyes, and place the scuba regulator in my mouth. I realize, life is something that must be lived and experienced. For that reason, I leap off the boat: right into the unknown.

Taking risks has been a defining factor of my life, from scuba diving to tearing up the stage. But these risks are not without reason. Each and every one follows a concept called Karma Yoga – the cornerstone of ancient Hindu philosophy. The point of Karma Yoga is to do things without wasting energy worrying about the rewards, promoting fearless and tenacious action. Every risk I take is inspired and validated by this philosophy. And no particular risk has been as rewarding and inspiring as the one that enabled me to express myself through the world of acting.

It’s March 1st. Everything has been leading up to this, everything – including the one decision five months ago that changed my life. I walk onstage and face the crowd, transforming from a high school boy to Oliver Warbucks, the immaculate billionaire. Never would I have imagined that I would be performing in front of thousands of people! It was all thanks to one decision that turned my life upside down.

Five months ago…

I walked onstage, the first of many, nervous yet confident – a paradox of emotions. I had looked over the audition materials, practiced the music and tried my hardest to make my face actually move. This was the first time I had ever done something like this. As a choir kid, the feeling of singing was natural, but truly expressing one’s emotions on stage was a whole new ball game. That’s why, as I waited for the audition results the next day, I was prepared to just hang in the background and learn the ropes… but boy was I wrong. When I saw the results, I only had one thought running through my mind.

 

OH — MY — GOD.

 

I had been casted as the male lead. The only problem was… I had never done a show before, and more importantly I didn’t know how to act! I suspected that I had only gotten the role thanks to my singing ability, not any thespian virtuosity. But my internal voice of Karma Yoga didn’t forget to speak up in encouragement. “Never fear,” I thought. “They would have never given you the role if you didn’t have it in you.”

Heeding these words, I threw all my worries aside and decided to give it my all. After all, following the principles of Karma Yoga meant acting in the present and not worrying about failure. I dove headfirst into practice, reading lines with whoever was available: my mother, my friends, or even my best buddy’s dog. Every time I went onstage to practice, Master Oogway’s words resounded in my head: “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift” (Kung Fu Panda). It was with this mentality that I was able to try my hardest and eventually succeed breaking record sales for any musical production my school has EVER done.

Whether it’s wading through the depths of the ocean or waltzing on stage, throughout my life risks have helped me. Backed by the ideal of Karma Yoga, my risks have enabled me to persevere through all my ventures. What has mattered more than success is that the risks gave me new perspectives on life and enabled me to grow, giving me confidence, courage and self-esteem. Now you know what’s going on in my head when I say:

 

Tick tock goes the clock, do you take the risk or do you not…?

Tips for Writing:

For me personally, coming up with an essay topic is hard because you really don’t think that you do a lot of amazing things. Have somebody close to you give ideas by reminding you how amazing you are! Along with this, try to make your essay stand out by formatting it in a unique way, making it speak through a unique voice, or just writing about a powerful yet unprecedented topic. Finally, the last piece of advice I can give is: READ, READ, and  READ. Read your essay again and again, slowly developing it into how you finally want it to be. You want colleges to see the best of you, so why should the work you put in be anything but your best? Good luck to you all!