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"Who am I?" - Common App Essay

ItsokaytoGaga 15 / 96  
Dec 1, 2011   #1
Please help me edit this draft. ANY sort of suggestion/critique/correction and help editing extraneous portions would be appreciated! Please tell me what you fell about the essay, does it fit the prompt well?

#4. Describe a character in fiction, a historical figure, or a creative work (as in art, music, science, etc.) that has had an influence on you, and explain that influence.

"Mum, are people only good or bad? Could they be something else?"

"Perhaps, but I'm not sure dear. Usually they are either good or bad."

As a child, I often wondered who I was. I certainly wasn't evil. However, I couldn't be good if I broke my best-friend's crayons, could I? What sort of a person was I then? My mother's response failed to resolve my innocent query. Eventually, these queries got piled up in the mound of the questions left unanswered.

Although I matured and left behind these childish doubts, growing up brought along with it, its own set of queries...
Was I an oddball for loving theatre and dance more than sports? Or was I a regular kid who had different interests?
Was I a grown up? Or was I still a child?
Was I a rebel for not listening to parents? Or was I a sheep for following rules otherwise?
There always seemed to be a hazy boundary between the two sides, leaving me confounded about the answer. Thus, the ultimate question remained - Who was I?

My need to belong somewhere led me to ask many questions. Therefore, I cultivated my reading to supplement my inquisitiveness. This led me to read Ayn Rand's work -'The Fountainhead', which finally managed to provide me with a definite answer.

The book narrates the story of struggling young architect, Howard Roark, in the United States in the 1920's and 1930's. Roark is an innovative genius who is always finds himself at odds with the society that perceives his work as deviations from conventional concepts. As a man of integrity he believes that a building, like the spirit of man, should be consistent and whole. Any incongruity is akin to defiling the spirit and its integrity. His refusal to conform his designs to traditional standards at the request of his clients leads him to lose many commissions.

Peter Keating, Roark's competitor, on the other hand is a successful architect. But he is mediocre in the absolute sense. Keating is not a creator; he merely gives the public what it wants. He has no ingenuity and borrows from other architects, including Roark, and sells out any standards he has ever held to achieve success and gain approval of people. Thus, Keating is a man of no integrity.

A major premise of the book revolves around drawing the difference between the Creator and the "Second-Hander". While a creator invents, innovates and drives humanity towards progress alone, a "second-hander" only scrounges. The "Second-Hander" is dependent on the approval of others. He does not invent, and lives off of other people's work. Rand draws this distinction through the stark comparison between the characters of Howard Roark and Peter Keating.

While reading the book the same question arose in my mind again. However, this time the question seemed to have turned itself around -

Who am I not?

I often found myself at a disagreement with the way the people perceive me. Since my interests and hobbies are different to a normal Indian kid I was deemed a non-conformist. My choice to pursue core Biology and not medical sciences or engineering was looked down upon. At times, it was difficult to hold my stance. However, the thought of giving up my convictions felt like an act of treason against myself. After reading 'The Fountainhead' I could draw a similarity between myself and the character of Howard Roark. His struggle against society and firm belief in his ideals personifies the internal turmoil I often experienced.

Whether it is my general disinterest in discussions about cars, bikes and sports, or my indifference towards people's judgemental eyes; people never deterred from questioning my choices and beliefs. When my convictions fail to satisfy them, uneasy looks are cast on me. The more I read the book, the more I questioned myself - giving rise to new doubts. I was fine being called an 'oddball', but I could not stand being uncertain about the genuineness of my choices. It is easy to pretend to like football to fit in, or do something irrespective of one's preferences - all this just to feel accepted. Had I been this way, there would have been no perceivable difference between Peter Keating and me. After all, I would merely fake the concept of uniqueness and shape myself in the way other wish to see me - just like a 'Second-Hander' would.

Thus, being a non-conformist becomes inconsequential if one's ideals and convictions are not justified. Hence, the concept of individuality loses its validity. 'The Fountainhead' like a mirror has allowed me to reflect on elements of my persona that I was uncertain about, and helped me plunge deeper into my psyche and question my beliefs. This has helped me to understand myself better. Now, when I see my reflection, I no longer observe a person unclear about the truthfulness of his convictions. Instead, I see the smiling visage of a person who has accepted himself the way he is.

So, again I ask myself:
"Who am I?"
- Definitely not a Second-Hander.
blueshore 3 / 47  
Dec 1, 2011   #2
I really like it! You manage to bring your experiences to life, and I think you leave the reader convinced that they know you! This was amazing :)
meuzilla 1 / 2  
Dec 1, 2011   #3
Leave it as is. It is incredibly well-written and after reading it, I feel like I know you much better!
napt11 1 / 3  
Dec 1, 2011   #4
I really think this is a great piece, I find nothing specific that you would need to change!
morecelery 4 / 20  
Dec 1, 2011   #5
GREAT ESSAY! I don't think you should be at all worried about it. The ideas flowed nicely, so it was easy to follow, even though you are very analytical and complex in your thinking, something unique and cool about you that could, in many cases, make such an essay hard to read, but didn't. If you are looking for critique, I have a couple that involve only polishing a few spots, mainly in the beginning. To make it flow better, I would take out repeated words, like "kid" in the beginning could be different, but saying it twice makes it a little bumpy for some reason. I found a few other words like that (minor issues) that could be smoothed out with a skim or two. Lastly, limit the copulative verbs, like "seems, is" that bring a weaker and sometimes passive voice. Again there are only a few. Just skim through and re-edit one last time, and the essay should come across as a mindblower, haha. you are a very good writer, and I think the readers will LOVE you. GOOD JOB AND GOOD LUCK!!!! :)
champ4sho 1 / 1  
Dec 1, 2011   #6
great essay i was kind of wondering can you all critique mines as well
OP ItsokaytoGaga 15 / 96  
Dec 1, 2011   #7
Thank You Nayeli! :)

Hi Marcel!
I'm glad you liked the essay. And thank you for the input, I'll make sure I change it accordingly. Even I felt that small stuff like this made my writing less succinct and fluid.

Please read my other essay too if you could! :) Thanks again!
OP ItsokaytoGaga 15 / 96  
Dec 2, 2011   #8
Any more help anybody? Please, I woul really appreciate it.
maroon5 9 / 57  
Dec 3, 2011   #9
Okay....first of all i have to commend your writing; it's near about flawless...the only corrections are:

to be a part of the conversations my friends often had, and not look awkwardly or feel out of place.----replace "awkwardly" with "awkward"..you should use an adjective here rather than an adverb

Perhaps even read a couple of bike magazines and showed some genuine interest in the ongoing discussion--- The sentence as it stands is a fragment, i suggest you add it to the previous sentence using a comma...

I really enjoyed reading your essay as you gave me a real insight into your personality and perception of the world...and that is what adcoms want i guess; they just want to hear you TALK about yourself...therefore,,,GREAT JOB.

OP ItsokaytoGaga 15 / 96  
Dec 3, 2011   #10
Haha! I think we both ended up posting replies almost simultaneously! I've commented on your essay, go check it! :)

Thanks for the little revisions, I'll make sure I correct them :) And thank you, I'm glad you liked reading it.

Please help me with my other essay! I could use some opinion there too!!!
maroon5 9 / 57  
Dec 3, 2011   #11
And, to further the strange coincidence, we both have names derived from musicians or bands( assuming your username has something to do with lady gaga)

I'll check out your other essay...please don't mind me asking....Did you really think my grandma would have religious spells casted over me just because i had a weird hairstyle??? I included those references to imply a deeper meaning but i guess i will have to reconsider them...THANKS A LOT ANYWAY>...
helpthischick 1 / 3  
Dec 3, 2011   #12
Wow, I think this is a terrific essay. Leave it as it is;I would not change a thing. This essay shows a teenager, a person. It shows you!
ravenclaw 1 / 6  
Dec 3, 2011   #13
First off, you wrote an amazing and unique essay. You not only left me wanting to read The Fountainhead, but you also left me with some food for thought.

honestly, i can't find anything you really change should change, except for one typo (you wrote mould instead of mold) it was pretty much perfect!

- " I no longer find purpose to mould myself to in order to belong somewhere or necessarily gain someone's approval. "

Though I would to suggest is not to start sentences "but"
- But I could not be good if I broke my best-friend's crayons, could I?
- for example you could change "But" to "However" and in the next line "But as I matured, so did the nature of my questions." you can remove "but" altogether

Eventually, these queries got piled up in the mound of the questions that were left unanswered.
- you could say, got piled up into a mound of question

These are just minor suggestions and thank you for reading my essay!
kellbell 2 / 6  
Dec 3, 2011   #14
best-friend's- two words with no dash
conventional norms.- kind of an odd phrase, maybe redundant? consider revising
other than this, it's literally perfect haha, and this is really nitpicking. Fantastic essay!
OP ItsokaytoGaga 15 / 96  
Dec 3, 2011   #15
Thank you everyone for your helpful comments! I was sure I may have had these tiny errors here and there. I'll revise and correct them! Thanks a lot again! :)

Please if you'll could read my second essay and comment it would be really great!
cally242 1 / 1  
Dec 3, 2011   #16
You stick to the topic very well but the opening could use a little work. the quote is interesting but there is probably a better way to incorporate it. from wat i saw most of all the other problems have already been adressed.

and now i havt read the foutainhead ><
m45over 6 / 12  
Dec 3, 2011   #17
I think it is a good essay.i really love the personal involvements.All the best:)
happykid93 2 / 9  
Dec 3, 2011   #18
Wow it is a great essay. You're a really great writer and I wouldn't really change anything about it. your ideas are unique and I can really see your personality shine through. Great job man.
aerielm 6 / 14  
Dec 3, 2011   #19
This essay gives a great insight into who you really are as a person and i feel like i know you really well after reading it! good job. The ending is really strong and gets the point across, and you definitely are a great writer:) I think this essay will take you places, best of luck!
karan11295 5 / 42  
Dec 5, 2011   #20
The first time I have ever seen someone make a good Fountainhead reference. The book was awesome and you managed to convey its awesomeness and your awesomeness really well. Awesome essay man.
hahahohohe 1 / 17  
Dec 10, 2011   #21
its a great piece of work
but commonapp has a word limit...
collegecat 2 / 19  
Dec 14, 2011   #22
I love your essay! It's very well written, and it really tells us something about you! My only concern is, if it isn't a tad too long. Isn't there a word limit?

I would appreciate it if you had a look at my essay!
pothepanda3 3 / 5  
Dec 15, 2011   #23
Really like it. Though it's way over the word limit. around 800-900 words if i'm not wrong. and cutting it down might mean you might loose the essence of it as an essay. so you really need to consider that.
OP ItsokaytoGaga 15 / 96  
Dec 16, 2011   #24
Thank you so much everybody for the positive comments! But any help on how I could reduce my essay length? Yeah it is longer, but I'm worried I might lose the essence if I cut down a lot. Any help anybody? PLEASE?
fredday 4 / 10  
Dec 16, 2011   #25
nailed the task on the head. sensational to read. i like how throughout the essay your thesis/point (whatever one calls it) is clear. you relate the topic/ the experience of reading the book to yourself. it's great.
collegecat 2 / 19  
Dec 17, 2011   #26
Maybe you should take a risk? I am afraid that if you trim it too much, you will lose the essence of the piece. Since you can upload it, you could always try to hand it in as it is. It's either that, or choosing a new topic, I reckon.

Could you please have a look at my essay?
WelcomeCollege 3 / 10  
Dec 21, 2011   #27
The beginning is catchy. and the dialogue leads into the topic very well.
Very good evaluation in that you grew up and discovered people are no longer just good or evil.
Suggestion: try to tie to colleges, like you will view your classmates/the world differently in college to better contribute to its diversity/tolerance etc
RGarvey 2 / 8  
Dec 21, 2011   #28
My Comments:
1. Roark is an innovative genius who is always finds himself - who always..
2. It seems a bit too long but I'm not sure.

Other Comments:
Now what I don't understand is how you expect this to get any better.
This is amazing! WOW!

Keep it up!

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