This is my first (and near-final due to the approaching deadlines) draft of my common app essay. It is a little too long (658 words) so it does need to be shortened. Please let me know what you think, and give me your insights and tips to improve this essay. And please help me choose the right prompt for this essay
a sense of pride
A bittersweet ambience filled the air. The field of the school campus was scattered with students in black and white gowns. Parents and relatives crying tears of joy. I stood beside my family as my brother received congratulations from others. Had it already been a year since Tim graduated? Now Phil? It was an odd feeling. All my life I had my two older brothers by my side to guide me. And in just a couple of months, I was going to be all alone. My stomach knotted.
The truth is, I was always envious of my brothers. From the beginning, there seemed to be a standard set for me to reach. Being raised in a Korean household, my academic performance would often be compared to my older brothers. I used to be afraid of bringing home my report card, already knowing what my parents would say.
"Why is there a B+ on your report card? Your brothers always bring home straight As." my parents would nag with an unsatisfied look. Along with being named to the highest honor roll every quarter, they were also involved in various extracurricular activities and had lots of friends. Most of all, they each had their individual niches.
Phil was the athletic captain and MVP of the boys varsity soccer team, one of the only players to start on varsity all four years of high school. Tim was outgoing, charismatic, and the leading star of the school musicals. I remember staring in awe as Phil scored a goal in the second minute against our school's rival. Or watching Tim up on the stage in a packed auditorium, receiving a seemingly endless applause.
Entering middle school, my brothers' feats had already garnered me a reputation. While taking attendance, teachers immediately recognized my name, mentioning how great my brothers were. Upperclassmen that I didn't recognize would constantly say "hi" to me in the halls. Members of the boys varsity soccer team would ask if I was going to be better than Phil at soccer.
Feelings of inadequacy surfaced. I desperately wanted to be like my brothers. Deep down I knew I couldn't sustain this mindset. But I didn't know how to get rid of it.
That winter, I decided to join the indoor track team. I'll never forget the immense feeling of regret and anxiety while waiting for my race to begin, not realizing what I had signed up for. I ended up being dead last by at least thirty seconds and while running the final straightaway, the crowd began to clap for me. Yes. I received a standing ovation for being in last place. It was one of the most embarrassing moments of my life but at the same time, I was extremely proud. For the first time in my life, I had made a decision for myself, not caring about living up to a false persona.
Within the following years my perspective shifted. Maybe the source of my stress and disappointment wasn't caused by others, but rather, myself. I stopped viewing my brothers' accolades as a burden on me to perform at the same level. I began to realize how foolish it was of me to compare myself to them. I no longer yearned to become a soccer phenom or a Broadway star. I was finally able to concentrate on making the most of my abilities without worrying how they measure up to my brothers'.
Now, looking back at my anxious, twelve year old self on my brother's graduation night gives me a sense of pride. While I never fulfilled my initial wishes of living up to my brothers' image, I was able to find fulfillment elsewhere: within myself. It's funny what once used to feel like a curse, was actually a blessing in disguise. Having such well rounded brothers serves as a motive for me to approach everything with diligence and passion, rather than a reason to diminish my self worth.