Prompt: Essay A: Autobiographical Essay In a short autobiographical essay, tell us about yourself. You can write about your family, your education, your talents, or your passions; about significant places or events in your life; about books you have read, people you have met, or work you've done that has shaped the person you have become. Our only requirements are that the essay be informative, well written, and reflective of your own voice; our only cautions are that you avoid poetry, purple prose, or writing about yourself in the third person. (750-word limit)
Experiences that we have endured throughout our past eventually become so far removed that they seem almost reverie-like. We tend to forget what was one reality, which leads us to question the facts we once knew to be true. Despite having experienced this phenomenon once or twice before, the events of my childhood lay perfectly preserved, engrained in my mind forever, defined by just one thing; silence.
In December of 1997 my dad called my house to wish me a "Merry Christmas" because he couldn't make it home for the holiday. He was in the hospital recovering from a massive stroke that almost took his life three days before. Though the caller ID read "dad", there was total silence on the other end of the line. After listening to the silence for a few minutes, I managed to wish my dad a Merry Christmas, tell him that I missed him, and hope that he could come home soon. The idea that he could not speak, that he was completely paralyzed against his own will, that to me was perhaps the most devastating thing about learning to live with a disabled parent. It was unfathomable to me that someone would have to learn to live without the ability of speech. This was almost thirteen years ago but I can still feel that silence whenever I look at my dad.
Though it was my father who had suffered, it was me who learned so much from his experiences. The value of my voice and what I have to say has become clear to me over the years that have passed since the winter if 1997. As my father and I rebuilt our relationship he taught me that being able to say what you think and to express how you feel is an invaluable gift. Literally loosing one's voice seems to me to be the most excruciating experience someone could endure. To not be able to voice your opinion, ask a friend how they feel, or be able to help someone in need is simply impenetrable. But I know that there are people like my father who have lost their voice against their wishes- be it by a medical incident or by a government who discourages free speech. As a child I watched my father learned to reactivate the muscles in his mouth in order to learn to talk again. I could not have been more proud of him when he finally managed to say the words "I'm OK". It was in that split second that our roles were reserved, and I was the parent cheering on their child. It is because of the realities that I faced with my father and his experience that I value my voice- and I am never timid about sharing what I believe to be true.
In the same breath, I have also learned that while speaking and sharing your thoughts with others is vital, it is also equally as important to listen. My father was paralyzed and unable to speak for more than a month. In that time he told me that he did an extraordinary amount of listening because that was all he could do. Though I have strong opinions and enjoy expressing them in a variety of outlets, I also have realized that listening can sometimes be far more important and beneficial than using your voice. I believe that you may never learn anything if you are always talking about what you already know. In trying to apply this to my life, I have found ways to do a great deal of listening. I currently interview prospective students in the Office of Admissions at Union College. Listening to students who wish to one day be in my position is rewarding. I have been able to learn so much about music, books, and sports from these bright young men and woman. It has helped me to further my understanding of the value of a voice and increased my appreciation for learning more about people and my surroundings.
Despite the fact that it was unhappy circumstances that led me to understand both the value of speech and the value of listening, I am unbelievably grateful to have lived though such an incident at a young age. My perspective on the world around me has been shaped by these beliefs and as a result I am open-minded and possess a unique inquisitiveness. I value these qualities about myself and have found that they have led me to meet fantastic people- a practice that I hope to continue throughout my life.
Is this good enough for a top journalism school? Your feedback is extremely appreciated... Thanks! (: