Stanford Common App Essay: Circus Center

Stanford Common App Essay: Circus Center


Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.

I derive pleasure from the adventure of exploring the physical capacity of my body, pulling myself out of alignment and into the discovery of new movements. The summer that I spent at the San Diego Circus Center fostered my playful mindset by providing an eclectic knowledge base and a supportive environment that allowed me to safely push the bounds of my body. Up until that summer, I had learned hand balancing through self-education, which proved frustrating due to having no real guidance to keep me on the right track. Upon arriving at the Circus Center, the sight of a muscular woman balancing in a one- armed handstand welcomed me. I instantly felt a surge of excitement rush through my body after months of patiently waiting to attend. I desired to receive professional instruction in hopes of refining my practice. Learning how to perform the individual skills properly would allow me to incorporate the movements together in improvised routines, a completely liberating experience. I take solace in this movement that serves as a type of active meditation for me because it makes me focus solely on the task at hand, quieting my mind from trivial thoughts. Additionally, my practice serves as an allegory for life, as the many lessons about my training parallel lessons about balance in my personal life.

The handstand class begun as the clock struck the hour with Jean-Luc, the owner of the Circus Center, asking me to perform my handstand for him to observe. I pulled off a thirty-second handstand, which exhausted me, for I had only intermittently practiced them. The internationally renowned hand-balancer leveled my ego quickly noting my deficiencies in the realms of flexibility, technique, and endurance, but he provided me drills to iron out my problem areas. Although I initially felt out-of-place and inferior to the other participants, I promptly regained my confidence when the other attendees went out of their way to welcome me with warm hugs. The class seemed to last way longer than one hour, as minimal rests interrupted the incessant instruction and drilling. The fact that Jean-Luc squeezed in as much information in one hour as I had learned in one year amazed me. The immense skill that I discerned at the Center as well as the friendly members made me feel at home, for I had finally stumbled upon a place that provided me with great challenge and a plan towards success.

The struggles that I faced in handstand and flexibility classes positively impacted my life. Although geographic boundaries separate me from training there regularly, I maintain the increased momentum and intensity in my training by investing two to four hours daily in yoga, rock-climbing, and bodyweight skills. I acquire new skills on a weekly basis, rapidly expanding my arsenal of bodyweight movements. The “letting go” aspect of flexibility training manifests itself in the way I approach new opportunities. Just as I let go of tension in my body to relax into deeper ranges of motion, so I too let go of anxiety in pursuing unfamiliar situations. Having been previously shy, I felt reticent towards running for a student government position decided by a popular vote, but I overcame my anxiety, met new people at my school, and eventually won student body Vice President. My determination to persevere towards my dreams of becoming a medical doctor stands at the highpoint of my life, which I directly credit to my experience at the Circus Center by furthering my passion for the human body.

Looking forward, I aspire to share the stimulating information that I learned at the Circus Center with others by starting a collaborative group of movement artists. There exists an endless array of skills to learn, much more than my lifetime can accommodate, but by maintaining a mind open to continual challenge and to the knowledge of others, I will forever remain in a blissful state of movement.

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