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'Breathe in through the nose' - common app essay for Vanderbilt ED

foreverhopping 1 / -  
Oct 27, 2011   #1
Please help! Right now its about 640 words, and it needs to be down to about 500!

Breathe in through the nose.
One, two, three.
Good. Now out through the mouth.
One, two, three.
Excellent. Watch that branch, keep your feet steady.
I've only been running for 15 minutes, and already the sweat is dripping down my face, collecting near my nose, stinging my eyes. I don't need a mirror to tell me that my face is tomato red and blotchy. Glancing at my watch, I realize that to meet my goal time for the day, I'd have to run 3 miles in the next 20 minutes. There was a time in my life that I would have stopped, given myself a break, and simply said "it's too hard". But that's not me anymore. Today, I tighten my ponytail, crank up my iPod, and bask in the challenge that lies ahead of me. You say that it's impossible, and I just say "Watch me."

The euphoria I get from a good run is almost inexplicable. In this fast-paced, discordant world, running is my peace. When I'm running, I achieve the perfect synchronicity between breaths, strides and beats of music, pounding through my headphones. When I'm running I'm weightless; my feet barely touch the ground. I'm almost always in excruciating pain but I feel... nothing. My mind is racing through a hundred things at once, but I'm consciously thinking nothing. Running is how I keep my balance with the world. Somehow, in a strange paradox, when I run I both clear my head and fill it with brand new ideas.

I haven't always felt this passionate about running. When I was younger, my limbs were awkward, gangly, and disproportionate to the rest of my body. I was not born an athlete. I could never seem to find where I fit in, and before I started running regularly, I felt lost, alone, and frankly, off kilter. It only got worse when my best friend's dad passed away, a man I considered to be a surrogate father. I'd never felt so helpless. At times I struggled with depression, and there were certainly days that getting out of bed seemed pointless. When I look back at that time in my life, it seems as if someone else lived it, not me. But after I started running, a switch flipped. Pride now took the place of self-pity. It was a euphoric sensation, a realization that maybe I wasn't useless, that my own gangly, un-athletic legs had actually accomplished something. It was then that I realized how badly I needed to challenge myself again. I pushed myself daily to go a bit farther. It was painful, but it showed me anything's possible when I set my heart to it. I felt a rush when I challenged myself, and that rush made me feel like myself again. The more of that rush I felt, the more I wanted it, and soon enough running couldn't satiate my hunger for a challenge anymore, I started to push myself on all levels. I took chances I would have never dreamed of before, starting clubs, running for offices, organizing school events. I had finally gotten my drive back.

Running truly helped me believe in myself again. It showed me that a daunting task isn't an impossibility, it's a challenge, and nowadays there's nothing I love more. I'm constantly surprising even myself with how much I can handle and how much I can achieve. My friends say that I'm crazy when they see me running through the streets four miles away, but they don't see the world like I do. Runners don't see the world in terms of impossibilities and fantasies, we see a challenge as simply a level we haven't reached yet, but with just a little sweat, blood, and tears, we know we can get there. When we hear someone say "You can't go that far", we just answer with "Watch me".

rifatmursalin 13 / 36  
Oct 29, 2011   #2
It's very personal and memorable.. But, it is too wordy and sometimes, a little too detailed. I know you can never be too detailed or descriptive while writing, but this has a word limit. You should focus more on your personal experiences and how running has changed you as a person. I know you included that, and that's the best part of your essay. The best part is... You talking about yourself and your passion.

BUT, don't go on and on about running and describing running. Just keep it simple to your own personal experience if you want to reduce 140 words.

Also, another suggestion: Try to bring down the uses of "I" in your essay. You use it quite often and that kind of distracts from the idea of the essay. For example, when you talk about starting clubs, organizing school events... in that paragraph, bring down the use of "I".

I would appreciate any help with my Common App essay. :)

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