13,397: Not Just a Number

Personal statements are a necessary showcase of personality

Lahari Ramini, News Editor

Thirteen thousand three hundred and ninety-seven is a significantly large number. 

With 13,397 miles, you can almost make it halfway around the world. With $13,397, you can buy over 100 years of Netflix (at $12 a month). With 13,397 jars of Nutella, you can make approximately 173 chocolate hazelnut lava cakes. All of these endeavors sound equally appealing. However, with 13,397 words, imagine attempting to explain the essence of your existence. I had achieved this incredible feat, all while learning a bit more about myself.

Since this past summer, I have spent hundreds of hours pouring over articles: ‘How to write the perfect essay: 10 tips’, ‘How to get into the best college with your essay’, and even ‘Template for a college essay’. In every one of my drafts, I tried to be approachable, conversational, intelligent, and interesting all at the same time so that the college admission officers would love me.

Don’t get me wrong, essays are an essential part of the college admissions process. They are supposed to provide insight into you as a person: your nature and how you deal with things, rather than your statistics and extracurriculars. In theory, having the ability to describe yourself through an essay seems like a good idea. 

However, we often forget how difficult it is to write about ourselves. Throughout my experiences, I learned that this difficulty comes from the fact that when we write about ourselves, we are attempting to seek the approval of others. 

I was a victim of this mindset. When I was writing my essays, I often heard myself thinking ‘Is this what they want to hear? Does this make me sound weird?’ I wasn’t sure whether the admissions officer would even want to hear about the time I was an imaginary number for Halloween or whether I liked pineapples on my pizza, even if it was essential to understanding me.

Rather than just writing about myself, I wasted my time dwelling on what other people would think and what they wanted to hear. 

However, as I got closer to my deadlines, I wasn’t satisfied with what I had written. It became more and more difficult for me to express myself coherently, without the overbearing worrying. I didn’t feel like I was striving to show who I was, but, rather, who I thought the admissions officers wanted me to be.

My dissatisfaction with my essays pushed me to change my mindset. I realized that it was important to be introspective and reflect on myself as a person, without getting caught up on what the reader will think. 

After taking some time for reflection and becoming confident in my writing, I was finally able to write some essays that I was proud of. Writing about myself became more than just an essay, it was an experience where I was able to learn more about who I was. I wrote without restraint, even mentioning the time I was at home alone with no toilet paper. I discussed my fears, my goals, my wishes, and my wants. And at the end of it, I edited and filtered through the relevant parts and the not so relevant ones.

Now, I can happily admit that I am proud of every one of the 13,397 words that I wrote for the various essays. All it took was a little bit of effort, a lot of confidence, and some self-realization.