College Essays

Common Application

It was a shocking month to say the least. The phrase “go with the flow” monopolized my thoughts for that time period. I rolled with the punches, remained flexible, and laughed at my situation. People often hear about teenagers’ concussions, sprains, and fractures. “Electrocution from blow-dryer” is usually not in the top five. As rumors spread, I received many smirks, a plethora of confused looks, and dozens of questions. It all happened as I went through my usual nighttime routine.
My eyes flashed white as a spark filled my dim bathroom. The high pitched whine of my blow-dryer started to fade as the scent of smoke traveled in my direction. I yanked my hand back, but within that split second a jolt traveled from my pointer finger all the way to my right shoulder. My right arm fell and stiffened, my hand remained as still as a statue, and my fingers curled inward. I convinced myself that the right half of my upper body would loosen within a day or two, yet the pain that derailed my mind and body stayed constant.
My normal state did not return for another month. 
Basic activities that I once took for granted turned into daily hindrances. My day began with one-handed showers, my scribbles might as well have been Egyptian hieroglyphics, and simple maneuvers in my car tested my patience. My finely honed routines changed within a heartbeat. Thirty minute homework assignments turned into two hour ordeals. Instead of participating at cheer, I sat off to the side as my team practiced and developed new skills without me. I showed up at Mock Trial and entrusted my peers to write down the group’s ideas on the board. I went to golf practice and stood among ten professionals who all swung with two arms, meanwhile, I spastically swung my club around. Their perfect swings made clean contact with the ball, causing them to fly over two hundred yards. My one-handed swing caused the ball to roll about five yards on a good shot. Other times I missed the ball completely. 
During this period, I frequently visited doctors’ offices. My pediatrician pondered over my problems and eventually did what any self-respecting doctor would do in this situation: refer me to another doctor. Saint Barnabas Burn Center seemed just right. But despite this doctor’s best attempts, she had no issue hiding the abject confusion that surfaced through her slowly connecting eyebrows. Sure enough, I visited a nerve specialist as well as a physical therapist. Attempting to hook monkey’s arms together in a barrel and squeezing a penguin’s face on a ball became my new biweekly event. 
But despite my increasingly hectic schedule, I adapted to all of these changes. I started to look for solutions rather than obsessing over minor problems. That mentality now carries over to any problem with homework, friends, family, or sports. I recognize complications and immediately search for solutions rather than dwelling on dilemmas. Readjusting and acclimating to changing situations served in my best interest. I now know how to let go of the circumstances I can’t control and focus my energy on the actions I can control. Minor inconveniences are inevitable. Laughing at my illegible writing and accepting that my golf balls rolled only five yards allowed me to persevere through it all. 
I now attribute my accomplishments from the same perseverance I exhibited when I electrocuted myself. I now laugh with my friends at my own hiccups instead of trying to conceal them, strengthening the bond between us. But overall I embraced my shocking experience. I welcomed the smirks, the confused looks, and the dozens of questions. Some say I embraced my experience too much… I dressed up as a lightning bolt for Halloween that year. 

Tips for Writing:
I’m not going to lie, starting your common application is difficult. Coming up with a topic requires a lot of contemplation and reflection. But, do not just stare at a blank screen for hours. Write down any thought that comes to mind because it will help you gain momentum; eventually, your thoughts will become clear. When coming up with topics to write about, make sure it will reveal your “voice”. Writing about the “final shot that led you to a championship victory” will not separate you from the rest of your classmates. Find something personal and unique to differentiate yourself from other applicants. Once you finish your essay (or believe you finished your essay), you should allow others to make changes to your essay. A fresh set of eyes will catch simple mistakes and grammatical errors or provide additional insight to help your essay. I hope this helps you throughout your process.

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