Sep 13, 2011

Personal Statement

By Souha Khan

The first time I understood the true meaning of the word ‘fear’ was when I stood on the edge of the pool of Induruwa Beach Resort in Bentota, Sri Lanka. If it hadn’t been for the “10ft deep” markings on the frigid marble floor beside my foot, the water could have easily been 50ft deep. It lay there motionless and seemingly endless like a patient predator. I stood, in the dark of the night, stripped down to my costume, staring at the bottomless demon with nothing to hold on to but a sense of terror yet silent desire. While my family peacefully slept upstairs in our hotel room with not a single clue of where I was or that I was about to attempt the most reckless act of my life, one that would change me in ways I never could have contemplated.

For as long as I can remember I have been incredibly stubborn. I have been told time and again that I have a mind of my own. Most people would call it ‘rebellious’ I prefer ‘determined’. Therefore it will not come as a surprise that the day my father stopped the car because of the commotion at the side of the road while on a road trip in Sir Lanka five years ago, I stepped out and impudently followed him even though he specifically a told my sister and I to stay in the car. As inquisitive as I was, I needled my way through the crowd after him. The image of what I saw that day remains to this moment so vivid that if asked to paint a picture, I would do so down to the very minute details including the folds in the shirt and the crevices in the man’s bloated skin who had drowned and whose body had washed up on the rocks at the base of the cliff on top of which we stood. Needless to say seeing something like that leaves an impact on you, but I would soon realize how grave the impact was for me.

Standing barely 3 inches away from the daunting dark water with no clue how to swim except for the basics I had been taught in the kiddy pool, there was chaos in my mind. Voices reverberated off the back of my head, warning me of the risk I was taking. I shut them out, absolute silence followed. Kick, circle, peddle; kick, circle, peddle, chanting these words to my self I mustered up all the strength I had and dove head first into the deep freezing water. Somehow I managed to complete an entire lap of the pool, 10 ft and all. How? It still puzzles me to this day.

I learned in that moment that the worst thing that can stand in your way is fear of fear itself. The exhilaration of triumph triggered a part of my personality that night, a part that has gone on to do daring acts; bravely taken on challenges, for instance stopping at a road accident site and helping with the limited basic first-aid knowledge I have from Indus Hospital seminars; taking on the responsibility of twenty children while volunteering at the SOS Village, aware of the risks involved when we take them out on a ferry; things I never would have done otherwise.

That day remains to be the day I learned how to swim and the first of many where I found myself asserting my newfound independence and sense of, what’s the word? Invincibility. It is this very attitude that helped me push through tough situations. Skeptical times, when people would doubt if I could handle being a part of the student council, the debating club, the throw ball team and maintain good grades, back in eleventh grade, was when my hunger to discover unfamiliar territory and explore uncharted waters proved most useful. I choose to learn as much as I can today and not fear striking out tomorrow.

I am no longer afraid of the unknown; I do not dread taking risks, learning something new, learning EVERYTHING new. I would rather experiment and conclude than play it safe and miss out on the chance to be original. Just like I would rather dive head first into mysterious forbidding waters than walk on the edge with the constant fear that I might, one day, fall in.


Fatin said...

Souha, this is brilliant!

Sana Riwzan said...

This is inspiring. If this was the only medium through which I'd ever get to know about you, it would still leave an impression.

Yusra Abbasi said...

It's interesting how you have intertwined that incident in between explanations of your personality. The ending is a real nice punch.

Sana Noor said...

This is awesome!

Noor-us-Sabah Adamjee said...

you are amazing =)

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