Narrative Essay About Overcoming A Challenge

Prompt: Describe an experience in which you overcame an obstacle to experience success. This may be something you achieved that at one point seemed impossible. Tell the story in a way that helps the reader understand why this experience had an impact on your life.

Narrative Essay Example

Before the summer of 2011, I had always been afraid of heights. For most of my life, even the idea of climbing a mountain would give me butterflies in my stomach. That was the summer I turned 16 and achieved something that profoundly influenced my life. On my birthday that year, my mother and I successfully climbed to the summit of Mt. Ranier in Washington state, and it remains a peak memory in my life. Our ascent to the peak was filled not only with dramatic views but with many obstacles both physical and emotional. The experience was a tremendous test of our physical ability and our skill in committing to a goal. Our grueling months of preparation eventually paid off, and I"ll never forget the rush of feelings I had when we reached the top. It was so overwhelming, I almost forgot about my fear of heights for a moment. However, there were many times during the process when I was certain we'd never make it.

When my mother and I first made the decision to train to climb Mt. Ranier, my knees actually shook with anxiety. First of all, we had read that only half of the climbers who attempt to summit the 14,500 foot high peak actually make it. Most turn back due to weather, exhaustion and even injury. Further, I was so scared of heights I couldn't even look over the side of a bridge. The day we made the decision, I was only 15, and we had a year to train for our trek. I'll never forget the expression of pride on my mother's face when I said, "yes, I'll do it." She looked at me and said, "we will just commit to doing our best and supporting one another. The process is what's most important." At the time, I didn't truly understand what she meant by that. The daunting year of training ahead would turn out to be filled with challenges and pitfalls I couldn't possibly have imagined.

Surprisingly, much of the preparation for climbing a mountain takes place indoors. We never expected this part of our journey! Together, my mother and I attended training sessions at a local climbing gym which included everything from running to lifting weights. Because of my fear of heights, I had to learn to climb up a wall to ten, twenty and even fifty feet above the ground. I also had to learn to trust in the ropes as I rappelled back down the wall. So much of climbing involves teamwork and developing trust. Many of our drills included myself and my mother learning how to spot each other and encourage each other. Our extensive reading on the history of mountaineering also took place indoors and we often stayed up late at night reading about the nuances of this exhilarating sport. Spending so much time indoors to prepare made us crave the "Great Outdoors" even more and we couldn't wait for warmer weather to arrive so we could do our first training climbs on the actual mountain.

It was finally time for our first outdoor climbing practice and the butterflies in my stomach had certainly multiplied. "Don't let the butterflies get the best of you," my mother advised me as we set out on a ten mile training trek. "Try to enjoy the feeling and turn the anxiety into anticipation." She was always full of kind words, but could I apply her wisdom in time for the day of our final climb? As it turned out, our practice excursion proved trepidating. Though it was May, the skies were grey and menacing on the southernmost face of the mountain. Near the halfway point, I lost my footing and fell backwards down the trail, slightly twisting my ankle and earning a tough bruise on my right forearm. Our guide was worried I may have sprained my ankle, and immediately applied a wrap and some ice. Though I was sore, I kept going for another mile or so, but I had to give up before we reached our intended target. The guide stayed with me while the rest of the crew continued to the destination. I felt deflated and discouraged that I couldn't even reach the top of our practice hike. How would I mange on the actual hike, given this setback?

Although I didn't succeed on our first practice hike and suffered minor injuries, I was able to recover in time for our planned summit climb. Thankfully, all the hours of practicing in the gym and reading about mountaineers who overcame pain to succeed had paid off. I had, over time, gained the physical and emotional strength to recover quickly and come through adversity even stronger. The breathtaking views along our climb no longer distracted me with fear but compelled me to follow through with my goal. I had not overcome my fear of heights, but I had made peace with it to the point where I could remain inspired by my own achievements. There is something transcendental about facing one's fears, an experience that's even more beautiful when supported by loved ones. My mom and I were among the last in our group to reach the flag at the summit. Finally standing there was proof that we had completed a process of preparing and persevering. We were above the clouds, but our feet were firmly on the ground, ready to take on any future challenge life might present.

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Overcoming An Academic Challenge - With A Free Essay Review

In my junior year of high school, I felt the effects of AP classes and an overweight schedule take its toll. Having eight classes from Monday to Friday, soccer outside of school, and family issues around second semester, my grades slowly but surely went to bad measures. I knew junior year was most important when it came to colleges, yet I didn’t do anything to raise my grades. It wasn’t until two F’s and a D came in the mail that I realized I needed to do something about this. I wasn’t going to let all my work and achievements I’ve worked for since seventh grade go to waste.

And my struggles didn’t end there. Around this time the high school counselors were meeting students to determine next year’s classes. When I met with my counselor to pick my classes we had conflicts. She wasn’t going to allow me to take three of my classes desired due to my low grades. I assured her I would have them higher and in stable condition by the end of the semester, but she persisted that until then, I would not be enrolled in Calculus AB AP and Latin 4Honors. It was up to this semester to determine my classes for next year and my future after high school whether I would be able to attend a four year university.

Starting in April I set my priorities straight and cut back on soccer and friends to make more time for academic studying. I’d go after school to my pre-calculus teacher to complete my homework in class and get better help. Rather than hanging out with my friends at the Block, I would arrange study groups with other studious classmates at the library to prepare for AP Biology’s test on molecular genetics and heredity.

I was determined to get those horrid grades up, but struggles at home intensified. My relatives created major problems with the city police, and every other day at two in the morning my parents and I would have to go to the police department to take my cousins home. If it wasn’t my relatives causing mischief, it would be my duties at home that occupied my time. Coming home late from school the dishes were left unwashed, my mom waited for me to go wash laundry, and my younger brothers and sister asked for help on homework. Of course, it was not hard to do these things, but it was tedious.

Finally, with my parents’ understanding, they let me focus on my classes to study and get those grades to a satisfactory level. My mom did the washing with my dad and even took their time doing my chores. Meanwhile I stayed after school tutoring a second year Latin student, benefiting both her and me.

After hours of studying and nights not sleeping my grades ambled higher and higher until I had successfully achieved a C in pre-calculus. However, I didn’t perform as well as I thought I would in AP Biology and Latin 3, but the passing grade proved to be eligible for a four year college. I am content to have raised my grades from an all time low, the lowest they have ever been, and now I am proving myself by maintaining a 3.7 GPA with the classes I know I can perform well in. _______________________________________


At the end of the first paragraph, you tell us of your determination to improve your grades. Then, in the next paragraph, you return to talking about the problems you were facing. Then in the third paragraph, you tell us of your actions to improve your grades. Then, in the next paragraph, you return to talking about the problems you were facing. Then in the fifth paragraph, you tell us of your actions to improve your grades.

I think you are creating a repetitive pattern here, and I think what you really want is a simple narrative of challenge followed by meeting the challenge.

Now imagine if you took the third paragraph and made it, with whatever necessary changes, your penultimate paragraph. Imagine if you also deleted the last two sentences of the first paragraph and the first sentence of the second paragraph. In that case, I think, your essay would have a more logical structure, or at least a more linear and more compelling narrative. (The bit about going to the police dept. every other morning to pick up your cousin sounds, well, a bit bizarre and unbelievable, but otherwise the narrative would be pretty compelling.)

You also need to address some of the word-choice problems. I've heard of heavy schedules but never overweight ones. I've also never heard of ambling grades or grades that might be in a stable condition or grades that went to bad measures. Those are the weirdest word choices, but you also mistake "persisted" for "insisted" at one point. You also use the expression "all time low," which is fine as long as you don't then add a tautological clarification ("the lowest they have ever been").

Finally, I was a bit confused by your last sentence. It sounds like you are saying that you are keeping your grades up by taking classes that are easy for you, though I would guess you didn't really want to suggest that. Beyond that, in just a few sentences, you go from talking about a C in pre-calculus, and worse (?) in Latin and Biology, to a 3.7 GPA, which came as a bit of a surprise, and perhaps deserves more comment than "I am proving myself" - something, for instance, more suited to a story about overcoming a challenge; something about how you have continued this year to work hard and so on.

Best, EJ

Submitted by: j.garcia73

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