For years, I couldn't wait to write my college essay. I'd periodically pieced together meaningful metaphors, long stories about my childhood struggles and how I'd grown as a person, always keeping in mind the impact every single word would have on the admissions officer reading the essay. In writing, my philosophy has always been that eloquent yet concise words make for the most effective expression.
My college essay opposed this theory - it devolved into a 650-word abomination. Yes, I wrote exactly 650 words. The limit. That's not something to brag about. I later watched a video where an admissions officer from Brown University said that the ideal essay was 450 words. Oops.
It was excessive, shallow and ultimately pointless. I recalled my old habit of building characters and acting as if I were these pretend people, then divulged and connected my passion for politics. The final product was complete at 11:57pm the night of my first three Early Action deadlines. It was a hot mess. Or so I thought.
My parents didn't read my essay. My english teacher didn't read my essay. My friends didn't read my essay. Before I sent any applications to college, my words were between me and Google Drive. When my guidance counselor asked me to recite a single sentence from my essay, I begrudgingly spoke a few words out loud and began to tear up. I was so protective of my writing, so tied up in my own mind and ruthlessly critical of my own creation that I didn't want to give anyone the opportunity to mock or judge me. For what was supposed to be the most important essay of my life, I didn't hold back. I let the words flow, knowing full well that some readers just wouldn't understand. In essence, I didn't edit at all.
For months after the deadlines, you can imagine the torture I put my mind and ego through. It was a true test of my confidence in my writing and, ultimately, my overall self-confidence. I quickly realized how reliant I was on others' approval - the constant battle between "should I share it?" and "No, keep it to myself" rocked my brain every day.
My first college decision was from a "safety" school. I told myself that, if this was the only school I was accepted to, I would be happy. It was a solid, reputable school and I would be perfectly okay going there. I excitedly clicked the link in the email, logged into my account, opened it up and...deferred. My heart completely sank. I was devastated, positive that the reason for this unfortunate outcome was my miserable attempt at an essay. I hated myself even more for the next three months, until decisions from my reach schools were released.
In the end, I was accepted to some schools, including all of my reaches, waitlisted at some target schools, and accepted to that safety that deferred me in the beginning - and with a decent scholarship. What I'm trying to convey is this...trust thyself. You know your writing. Don't let editors manipulate and change the entire meaning of your essay. People want to hear YOUR words, from YOUR mind. It's good to get approval from others, but ultimately, you will be the one rereading the essay over and over until decisions come out. As long as you're at peace with what you've expressed, you're all set.
And looking back, I'm not sure I would change anything. My essay is me. That's all anyone can ask for.