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Converting the Obstacles into Fuel for Success

JesusLM2 4 / 18 3  
Dec 15, 2014   #1
This is an essay for a college application and I'm obviously trying to sound as organized as possible.My main goal, however, is to give the reader a genuine perception of what I've gone through and have overcome. Any advice is accepted. Thanks in advance!

Lacking the presence of my mother - what Ignited My Pursuit of Success and (Genuine) Happiness?

I recently posted a draft of this essay and revised it. I made the theme more narrow, focusing more so on living without a parent than on the much broader "divorce".

Here is the prompt:

Some students have a background or story that is so central to their identity that they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.


A blistering mallet increases its velocity and with it, its trepidation. The pounding continues and, similar to the darting vibrations of a gong, within moments my emotional makeup receives a wave of agitation and confusion. The migraine has startled the very temple of a young Jesus Luis-Mejia as I consider, without the shadow of a logical answer, why it is that I have been forced to grow up without the presence of my mother. As I questioned why I lacked the right to receive the much needed nutrients of life that one acquires from each parent, I considered my emotions and ambivalently came to the conclusion that I had to manipulate these variables in the pursuit of legitimate happiness. Despite the troubles that come with being raised without a mother, I look back and appreciate this experience as it has entirely shaped my perspective and work ethic. When trying to give a college an accurate perception of me, presenting my triumphs while evading this life-shaping experience would simply be involuntarily parsimonious.

In 2006, my parents had to settle for a divorce. Emotionally attached to both parents, it was difficult for me to comprehend why I was forced to lack the presence of my mother, especially because she raised me (virtually unassisted) for the first six years of my life. However, this doubtlessly unfortunate experience has molded me into the independent, success-seeking student-athlete that I am today. Not being able to have her around has taught me to be independent because frankly, one lives with the certainty that nobody else will be permanently present except God and oneself. The lack of the presence of both parents has shaped me and given me the gift of autonomy. With this prize, I have accomplished academic milestones, athletic ascendancy and have even learned to master five musical instruments without the need of anyone motivating nor assisting me.

As my life progressed, not only was I more exposed to the lamentable effects of being raised without a mother, but I was additionally met with constructive notions that shined in the midst of a foggy childhood. Among these truths was the fact that I was the only person responsible for my success and happiness. After internalizing this, I learned to appreciate the deck that life threw at me and manipulate the cards in a pursuit of (genuine) happiness. I was driven to work harder and more passionately as I understood that when it came down to it, only my work ethic would be responsible for my productivity. Today, in anything that I do I put in passion and excitement as my experiences have revealed to me that my work ethic alone can make up for any contributions that I lacked. I learned to use the emotional pains of living without a mother as a stepping block that put me in a position to reach success, happiness, and an extremely diverse perspective and identity along the stretch.

One of the most life-shaping virtues that lacking a maternal presence gifted me with is the asset of taking nothing for granted. Albert Einstein once said "There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle." When you are the center of a divorce, lack the presence of a mother and hence go through things that many children don't experience, you realize how precious every second, every opportunity, every privilege is. This experience has equipped with the virtue of taking advantage of every opportunity and hence applying all of my heart to my efforts.

Attempting to give a college an accurate perception of me without mentioning my living without a mother would definitely not be suffice. This experience is central to my identity and has shaped me completely. Not only has it taught me to be independent and to work for what I want, but it showed me that I had to take advantage of every opportunity I had. Whether it be polishing my athletic abilities, rehearsing musical instruments for hours, or hitting the books, I am self-reliant and realize that only my work ethic can determine my success. Hence, I pour all my heart unto my actions and take nothing for granted realizing that every second is a gift. These virtues have come as a result of lacking the presence of my mother and are still engraved in my character today. Undoubtedly, I will retain these truths throughout college and continue to independently work hard for what I want in the pursuit of success!
vangiespen - / 4,134 1449  
Dec 15, 2014   #2
Jesus, you need to pick one of the most memorable, life altering, and lesson learning events in your life in response to this prompt. The idea behind the prompt is to discuss something that has happened in your past that helped to develop your identity as a person. A character or trait that you know you did not have before but, due to circumstances, you had to develop in order to solve a particular situation. That solution that you came up with became a part of your personality and now helps you govern your daily life. That is the kind of answer that best suits this prompt. You can review other essays at this forum in response to the same prompt just to give you a better idea of how to answer this paper. Remember, it has to be only one event, not multiple events in relation to the development of your identity. For example, Can you be both Latin American and American while living in the United States? If you say yes, then how did you do that? Does that make you a unique individual? If you feel it does, then the events leading up to the development of this identity is what becomes the central basis of your story and your central identity.
sage28 4 / 12 4  
Dec 15, 2014   #3
This is a good start, but I feel it needs more focus. Try to chose one event specifically in your life that can get your point across in one coherent anecdote. For this prompt, because it is so broad, your essay must be focused and present a clear image of who you are. Good luck!
OP JesusLM2 4 / 18 3  
Dec 16, 2014   #4
I understand. Thanks for the advice. Do you believe that focusing the essay more on who I am as a result of LACKING THE PRESENCE BOTH PARENTS, instead of having to stem off of the much broader "divorce of parents", would be more efficient?
sage28 4 / 12 4  
Dec 16, 2014   #5
Yes, I feel that would work better. maybe talk about how the divorce has effected you, but try to find one specific event within the divorce or caused by it and then come to a conclusion about how that event changed you as a person. I am also a child of divorce and I know it was made me more independent because my parents both worked and couldn't be there helping me all the time. Maybe take that angle, think of a specific event, and conclude about how the divorce has made you more independent and how that will help you in the future.
OP JesusLM2 4 / 18 3  
Dec 16, 2014   #6
Hey! Thanks for the response.

After reading the advice that you have (for which I am thankful) I can conclude that something in regards to the plot or thesis of my essay (the divorce) is not giving you a clear response to the prompt. I understand that the essay is quite broad however, I am actually going to focus the plot more so on how lacking the presence of both parents has helped shape me into the success-seeking, college bound student that I am today. I entirely understand how your proposed plot clearly answers the prompt as I coincidentally have had to deal with such identity concerns between being considered either Latin American, American or both. However, wouldn't the lack of having both parents around (under my circumstances in particular) have a much stronger, more serious effect on me as a person and thus better supported facts, details, and ideas for my essay?
vangiespen - / 4,134 1449  
Dec 16, 2014   #7
Jesus, I cannot really judge the worthiness of the prompt response you have in mind unless I have something solid to read. Here is what you can do, write the essay as you envision it now. Don't worry about any word count. Just write it. That way I can tell if you have come close to or totally answered the required prompt. We can run editing and revision work on that version as it become necessary to do so. Remember to post it in this thread because it is still a related topic. We can get to work to it as soon as you post it.
OP JesusLM2 4 / 18 3  
Dec 19, 2014   #8
A blistering mallet increases its velocity and with it, its trepidation

What Ignited My Pursuit of Success and (Genuine) Happiness

This is an essay for the Common App which I have revised numerous times. I need to cut down on some material to reach the 650 word limit so any advice is helpful.
vangiespen - / 4,134 1449  
Dec 20, 2014   #9
- Eliminating this flowery introduction that does not help you present the central story will help to not only lower your word count, but offer the admissions officers a chance to immediately find the subject of your essay and get to the specifics of your essay.

It is my opinion that the minute your overly long introduction is eliminated from the essay, the whole piece actually falls into place and offers a direct insight into the central story that has helped create the personality and traits that have helped you become the person you are today.
OP JesusLM2 4 / 18 3  
Dec 20, 2014   #10
I revised the essay and eliminated some unnecessary material.
How is this in your opinion?
vangiespen - / 4,134 1449  
Dec 20, 2014   #11
See if my suggested revisions will further help your paper :-)

startled the very temple of a young Jesus Luis-Mejia as I consider,

- Revise the sentence. Always speak in first person since this is a first person experience essay. It will also help add clarity to the fact that you are the one telling the story in the whole essay. You don't need to mention your name in the essay.

she raised me (virtually unassisted) for the first six years of my life.

- Remove the parenthesis and change it to a comma for more impact in the sentence.

my own efforts can make up for any contributions that I lack .

- my own efforts can make up for the absence of parental presence and guidance in my life.
vangiespen - / 4,134 1449  
Dec 20, 2014   #12
Yes, I believe that this essay works better now. It has reached a point where, if you feel that you have no information to add or revise, that you can already finalize the paper for submission and use. It already answers the prompt quite well and has offered good insight into who you are as a person and where you might be headed in the future. Your central identity has clearly been established as one who has come to realize that the lack of parental guidance does not mean the success or failure or a person. It all lies within yourself and your desire to succeed in life. Excellent work.
OP JesusLM2 4 / 18 3  
Dec 22, 2014   #13
Thanks alot!!! God bless!

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