“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

Anxiety flooded every inch of my body. As a gawky teenager, I braced myself for the most frightening ten minutes of my life. I was about to recite The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss in front of a thousand classmates in my school’s talent show.

My mother had encouraged me to move away from my introversion, and it was she who persuaded me to participate in the show as an elocutionist. At the time, I had no idea what the term “elocution” meant. It was a dare to be different – to shed my adolescent awkwardness. Having recited the book to my baby brother hundreds of times, I stood onstage, trying to block the thundering beat of my heart and trickling beads of sweat.

"The sun did not shine, it was too wet to play."

1626 words later, donning my self-styled red-and-white papier-mache hat, I was taken off guard by the resounding applause. Performing the dorkiest act of all time without regard for the social consequences and the crowd’s chuckles left me with a belief that resonates in every aspect of my life. Personal growth is a byproduct of discomfort, eccentricity, and jumping off the deep end.

— Aahan Bhojani