College Essay: Conquering Fear with Poetry

Headshot student Zaira ReyesFear is the mind killer, I repeated to myself. Even through relentless self-encouragement, my voice still cracked and shook with every syllable I spoke. I could hear my voice; it sounded like I was about to cry. After I finished reciting my poem, the tears that were being held back multiplied and overflooded. As I tried to push back tears, the poet who inspired my poem told me, “If I could be a spark for a poem like that, I’m forever grateful.”

Prior to junior year, I never had interest in joining any clubs. And it was because I was afraid of being alone. I was so used to doing things with other people, it was frightening and difficult to think of moving on from that habit. I always believed I was stronger with others. But, during quarantine, a teacher reached out to me to invite me to join the school’s poetry club. And although I still felt afraid at the thought of joining, deep down I knew this was a good first step to push myself. 

On March 26, 2021, I participated in an event where I recited my original poem. It was inspired by Father Joseph Brown. Here is a portion of it:


I woke up to your dead body next to mine 

And looked at you for three long minutes

Without having a look of disgust reciprocated. 

I left, 

And silently wept

Because you never said sorry

Only through 

Small kisses when you were drunk,

And a dependence that grew with your fragility

Did I feel loved?

Despite having a husband who could not love

I managed to 

       Hold on

To your drawing breaths 

And gawking moments when you stared at nothing 

Then I looked back at ME and smiled.


The hollowed room

Spoke of centuries of women

Who cared and endured the

Backhand of husbands

With their wife-beater tanks and chains of gold.

I was simply another one of them:

A woman who had to endure.  


After reading my poem, Father Brown said, “Own that one; you gave it to the world. And the truth that you put in this poem is worth this entire evening. Thank you.” 

Being in a poetry club pushes me to share, which is something that I tend to shy away from. After hours of classes, I am able to go into a meeting where I feel my shoulders and back lose their tension. I can bask in a personal boat where my weekly fishing has brought forth a jumble of carefully caught words. I pushed myself into this event, knowing my voice would crack and tears would spill. I feel invigorated when my poetry is read aloud. I now know that my words are worthy of an audience, big or small. 

My teacher’s words boomed: “I know your witness to the world is going to be a force.”

I’m privileged to be able to celebrate others, as well. Seeing everyone together, writing poetry and reading aloud always makes me proud. At every stanza and every line, I increasingly want to immerse myself in the school community. I always give money for fundraisers, go to Zoom meetings, and celebrate college acceptances. I hope to continue this practice, whether it be at college, work or at clubs. 

Through the conquering of my fear, I was able to find the dormant talent in the crevices of my mind and heart. Whenever I am afraid, I remember the famous Lorenzo Anello, who said, “Remember, the saddest thing in the world is wasted talent. You could have all the talent in the world, but if you don’t do the right thing, then nothing happens.”