Saturday, October 06, 2012

Personal Statement

I've been working on a personal statement for an application. I started it (or at least started worrying about it) right as I got off the plane from Bulgaria July 26th. I turned it in this Tuesday afternoon for the final internal Penn State review before it gets shipped off to the real review committee.

It was one of the hardest pieces of writing I've ever had to do.

Maybe its that I'm a year outside of my English degree and haven't touched academic writing in that time. Maybe its that I'm a long winded writer and that the constraints of 1 page, single spaced made me panic. Maybe it was how expansive it had to be and how important each word had to be that got me all wound up.

I wrote one draft and a panel of reviewers hated it.

I scrapped it. It was sentimental. And ineffective. It said some nice ideas and some nice moments from my life. It implied that I thought teaching was important and that we have to see people as "whole people".

Whatever that means.

I didn't write my statement until a dinner party the night before it was due. We stuffed ourselves full of Bulgarian food and I told stories from my time there. We drank family made wine that Sonia had given me as a gift. When I drank it, I was back in the room off the kitchen at Camp Lucky hearing Vlady raise a toast, "To the glory of God and the good of His people!"

After we ate, I sat on the couch while my friends washed dishes. I tried to write. And I wrote this paragraph.

"I want to say this as clearly as possible, this impossible thread that is through me, wrapping around both the healthy and unhealthy parts of me. I am afraid to write this because I am afraid of them seeing my empty idealism and my overweening responsibility for making other people better--when it is me, myself, that I want to see be better. I want to see me whole. "

Kaitlin noticed my face as it tightened up and I began to grow frustrated and couldn't write anything. "Hey. What is your identity?"

What is your only comfort in life and death? My only comfort is that I belong body and soul to my savior Jesus Christ.

I had grown too afraid to write. I wasn't even sure what I was afraid of. My only comfort. That sounds better than overweening responsibility.

1 comment:

Hannah said...

And maybe it's that personal statements are in themselves one of the hardest genres to write. Too bad we can't just give them Heidelberg . . . I love that line, too. :) I'm sure what you turn in for applications will be good, however difficult the path there.