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Trying to Find Yourself While Writing College Apps

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Trying to Find Yourself While Writing College Apps

Picture by Tyler Sinness

Picture by Tyler Sinness

Picture by Tyler Sinness

By Tyler Sinness, Staff Writer

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You stare endlessly at the blinking cursor on the white screen. Your head feels heavier, almost as if your mind is swimming in a viscous sludge of half-finished thoughts. Who are you?

There weren’t any grand life-altering moments that prevented you from getting an education. You never escaped violence in Central America, nor did you ever have to get a job at eleven to make ends meet. In fact, there really isn’t much that is extraordinary about you at all. You did well for yourself in high school, well enough. Not at the bottom, not at the top, just average.

Maybe you liked Pokémon cards as a kid, or you played an instrument in the band, nothing spectacular.  You were born into mediocrity, doomed to settle into a mediocre nine-to-five job and a mediocre suburban home much like the one you were raised in. You now realize you should’ve put more effort into your mediocre English grade. These few words determine the next steps of your life. They determine the size of the mediocre suburban home you will one day buy. Maybe it’s closer to the city, mid-century modern, too, something to make you feel as if it’s one step further away from average. You’ll have a dog, brown or black, not too big and not too small, with an average-sized lawn for it to play on. Hopefully, these words get you into a college that is one step further away from average; that way, you can get a job that is one step further away from average that pays a salary that is one step further away from average so you can afford all of these one-step-further-away-from-average things.

Of course, this isn’t a bad way to live. The adults around you all ended up this way, living in a cookie-cutter suburban community in cookie-cutter lives. They seem perfectly happy. You’d have clean water, food, and freedom. You’d be able to splurge a little to send your mediocre family on a trip to some mediocre resort, the photos of which you later display in your mediocre office. What those adults told you when you were younger, everything about how you can be whatever you set your mind to, stuck. Now, they’re telling you to cut your losses. Your scores aren’t high, they’re mediocre. There’s no way to get into your top school with them. Of course, the adults tell you that your life can be happy without a degree from a top university, but deep within you, you know that life would be somehow different if you could just be accepted into that one college. It’s the difference from being one step further away from average and two steps.

The blinking line remains unmoving in front of you. You struggle to type coherent phrases onto the page. “I feel” is too passive, “I am” too entitled. You know that you’re more than just average, you can feel it. You don’t feel destined to live in mediocrity, instead you are excited to lead a life of twists and turns, of restlessness and travel. But how do you put that down on paper? No, your upbringing wasn’t extraordinary, but you want to be extraordinary. You want life’s next chapter to be exciting, to be filled with stories that you can one day surprise your teenagers with.

Maybe begin the essay with a story, you’ve heard that colleges like that. The story your mind produces is, as expected, mediocre. Nevertheless, your fingers begin to type. You write about approaching a crush in class. That’d never catch a college’s attention. Except, you write about how that experience taught you confidence. Colleges like that. You write about how your fascination with a television show inspired you to pursue the major you’re applying to. You write about your parents’ ugly divorce, or your connection with your church, or how your travels to another country shaped who you are. Your fingers type faster. Finally, you sit back. You stare at the page, only to find yourself staring back. You wrote about you, and thus the words you wrote represent you. You aren’t full of flashy gimmicks, nor do you have some insane story to tell. The only thing you can truly write about is yourself.

As you’re about to make the final click to submit yourself to your future,  you take a moment to think about what might come. You might be average, maybe one step further away from average, maybe two steps, only time will tell. You do know now, though, that you are submitting yourself, your honest self. Hopefully, colleges will see that you’re more than just mediocre.

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Tyler Sinness, Staff Writer

Hi! I'm Tyler. I spend my free time reading, running, and writing. You can often find me interning for local politics or organizing events around town....

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Trying to Find Yourself While Writing College Apps