I have long held the belief that I am not ordinary. I see myself as a unique human being with unique passions, unique beliefs, and a unique story. However, Wednesday morning was the first time since I was a suffering child struggling to find my identity that I've felt entirely ordinary. The college application process has surfaced deep-rooted feelings of inadequacy that I was previously unaware of. The process has resiliently attempted to strip me of the distinctions that have long made me feel unique. But I shall persevere. I shall not let this viciously competitive process restrain me from feeling like the special person that I am.
Before this year, I had never doubted myself academically. I had never questioned my intelligence. But, considering I did not reach my goal of attaining a top tier ACT score, I've begun to question not only my standardized test taking ability, but my academic abilities as a whole. Though I know these doubts are merely the byproduct of a flawed system, I can't help but wonder if those standardized tests serve as legitimate evaluations of my intelligence. Before I get too consumed in the world of 1400's and 32's, I must stop to consider how capable I am in a traditional classroom setting. In terms of work ethic, reasoning ability, and quality of work, I consider myself to be college-ready. Despite that hard and cruel number that inevitably makes me doubt myself, I must look past it and recognize that I am more than capable in a traditional, year-long course. I will not let myself fail.
I consider myself to be someone who takes on an exceptional number of extra-curriculars. But, it seems, my accomplishments pale in comparison to those who are working as professor's assistants, interning for Supreme Court justices, doing groundbreaking cancer research, or writing books about the flaws of America's current educational system. Being reasonable, I know that the vast majority of Americans are not boasting accomplishments comparable to these, but this is a competitive process. Those interns could potentially eliminate me from consideration at a top tier college. That authorship could be the deciding factor between me and a young woman from Michigan. But, what I must keep in mind is that I am entirely unique, and bring a great deal to the table in those activities that I do participate in. I must not pursue extra curricular for the sake of bolstering my resume. I must pursue my passions and participate in those activities that I both enjoy and see the long-term value in. I must not reach a point where I am willing to relinquish my values and interests for the sake of making myself appear more impressive on a piece of paper.
One of the most difficult aspects of this process has been writing my college essay. To perfectly capture the unique person I am, the story I have, and the passions and values that I hold is a daunting task. I went through a number of prompts and drafts, falling in love with none of them. Though I've finally decided on one, I cannot be entirely satisfied with it because I see it as impossible to convey the person I am and the things that I am capable of in 650 words or less. Though the essay is both enjoyable and beneficial in that it gives admissions officers the chance to see the person you are, it is still immensely difficult to put that person on paper. But I must do my best. I must work to find a way to articulate the person I am and the things that I've been through. And, though it may be from the perspective of my red power ranger, I feel I have almost perfectly captured my story after many, many tries.
Every senior has been warned of the hardship and pressure that comes with applying to college. But you never truly understand the pressure until you're immersed in it. What I've gathered from this process is that you have to persevere, you have to remain true to yourself, and you have to find a way to maintain that sense of uniqueness. Nobody in the world is you. Nobody can bring the same things to the table. Nobody can pursue the exact same passions and bring the same change. I am - you are - we are all entirely unique people, and we must never relinquish that sense of independence and self-pride, even when battling a system that seems to stop at nothing to strip us of what makes us feel special.
We shall persevere.