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"Who Am I?" -- Common App Essay

"Who am I?" I have tried to answer that question my entire life.

Am I still the shy kindergartener that built royal castles out of sand and water, alone in the sandpit? When I entered school, I knew I was different. I did not look like the other kids. I did not speak like the other kids. I picked up on my studies faster than others, and I was reading books far above the level of a normal kindergartener within six months of elementary school. I feared rejection by my classmates, wishing to be among them, to be like them; but only keeping close company with those I believed were my true friends: Judy Blume, Roald Dahl, and Jerri Spinelli. I was the shy reader, and the introvert was me.

Am I still the confused fourth grader that looked in disdain at the essay prompt laid out in front of me? I stared and stared at the lined paper in front of me, grabbing at nonexistent words and plots. I felt the bead of sweat crawl down my face in the humid trailer that was supposed to be a classroom as the worst case of writer's block pervaded my small mind. "I'll never be a writer!" I thought to myself in anguish and buried my head under my arms. I was the anguished writer, and the anguished writer was me.

Am I still the nervous sixth grader that sat alongside three others in the county finals of the Battle-of-the-Books tournament? "Stone Fox or The Outsiders?" asks the team captain as we struggle to remember the book where a boy finds a piece of coal in his Christmas stockings. After narrowing down the choices, our team was deliberating between the answer that would win us the championship and have our names carved in the small, plastic trophy in eternal glory or condemn us to the horrendous predicament known as "second place." Five seconds, four seconds, three seconds... I whisper into the ear of the team speaker, "Freak the Mighty by Rodman Philbrick." Rapidly, the captain regurgitates the answer. A hush falls in the small gym. "Correct!" cries the announcer, and my team bursts into hugs and tears. I smiled. I was a champion, and a champion was me.

Am I still the dissenting freshman in my Honors English class that defended the merits of Great Expectations by Charles Dickens against a sea of angry protestors? I cited the plot and characters as one of the greatest of all time. My furious classmates ridiculed Charles Dickens, foregoing the difficult diction for Sparknotes, skipping the amazing rising action in order to meet a due date, and cursing his name in vain. However, I knew Pip, the boy who dreamed of romance and riches, better than anyone else could. I was Pip, and Pip was me.

Am I still the hopeful junior waiting impatiently in homeroom as the teacher passes out the results of the PSAT at an agonizingly slow pace? Finally, she reached the "S" scores. I almost grab the folder from her outstretched hand and tear open in the folder in a frenzy. "YES!" I cry eyeing the 232 in the top corner, and the 79 in the reading section. A classmate craned over my shoulder and glanced at the large number. "Man, I wish I was you!" I am glad I am me.

I have just begun to realize who I am. I am the sum of my experiences, my genes, my personality. I am a bibliophile, a writer, a champion, a critic, a student, and a bildungsroman all in one. I am starting to understand that I am unique in my own way. There is no other way to put it; I am [Name Omitted].

This essay had no specific instructions, and I basically chose the topic since it was "Topic of Your Choice."

This is really excellent. Definitely a singular essay. I like that repetition effect you used at the end of each paragraph. But was it a "bildungsroman"?
EF_KevinThreads: 8
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Dec 25, 2008   #7
I feared rejection by my classmates, wishing to be among them, to be like them; but only keeping close company with those I believed were my true friends: Judy Blume, Roald Dahl, and Jerri Spinelli. I was the shy reader. I was the introvert, and the introvert was me.

I cited the plot and characters as examples of some of the greatest literary creations of all time.

I almost grabbed the folder from her outstretched hand and tear open in the folder in a frenzy.

This sentence could be replaced with a better one, because to say that you are unique "in [your] own way" is redundant. You can't be unique in any other way!

This essay is supposed to celebrate you and present you in a positive light, so you have to do that in a way that is graceful. You did a great job of using the chronology, and that repeated question, "Who am I?" to keep the reader interested, but now at the end I would suggest that you balance it all off with something that shows humility. You might not need the section about the PSAT scores, because the reader of this will be looking at those scores on your transcript anyway; you might replace that part with something that shows humility, or something that shows an aspiration to help people who are less fortunate than you, as part of who you are.

Consider becomming an Essay Forum Contributor! :) You are a good writer. See the "EF Contributors" link at the bottom of the screen!

Good luck!
Dec 25, 2008   #8
Wow...amazing, just amazing to be able to write like that...

I am envious, and envious was me =)
That was a very interesting and attention-grabbing essay.
I suggest, however, to omit or change the second-to-last paragraph about the PSAT scores. I know that they usually arent on the application, but that bring no humility on you.

Colleges like to see your good grades, but they want to think that you know you can improve and that you are human (are you? lol jk).

Overall- excellent. I just suggest a little tweaking of that paragraph.
Dec 25, 2008   #11
Wow, thanks for the comments everybody! I didn't expect so much praise for this essay at all. Thanks for the edits/critiques as well.

For the PSAT paragraph, I wanted the main focus to be that it surprised me that others wanted to be like me. Will omitting the exact numbers be better or should I just omit the paragraph entirely?

Again, thanks for the responses!

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