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(fear of death) Common App - Evaluate a significant experience


fudgebrownie 1 / -  
Sep 18, 2011   #1
Evaluate a significant experience, achievement, risk you have taken, or ethical dilemma you have faced and its impact on you.

When I was younger, I would always wonder how I was going to die. Maybe I will drown. Or suffocate. Or maybe I will simply die from old age. It wasn't long however, before those thoughts were accompanied by an immense and uncontrollable fear of death. For years I have dealt with what many may refer to as an irrational fear; because after all, death is inevitable. But it is its exact unquestionable inevitability (mankind's lack of control over their fate), coupled with the unknown and unfelt experience of death and the questions of existentialism it raises that exacerbated my fear and anxiety.

Initially, I would simply shudder at the idea of being dead, but eventually I became constantly possessed by the thought of death. I went through a period where I would frequently sleep because I thought sleep imitated the sensation of being dead. And on the worst days, I cried incessantly; tears just somehow made me feel better. At the time, it was a psychologically defeating and conflicting feeling. However, I have since learned to overcome my anxiety and apprehension of death and used what could have been a mentally and physically damaging experience as an opportunity for learning, self-exploration and understanding.

I refused to let my fear debilitate me. Instead of attempting to ignore and allow my fear eventually disappear, I faced it by seeking the help and advice of family and friends, professionals, religion, literature and other resources to help me explore and better understand my fear. I studied Catholicism, Judaism and Buddhism. I read Deepak Chopra, Viktor Frankl and Ernest Becker. I dabbled in existentialism, psychology and philosophy. And somehow, during the course of my self-discovery, I realized that my thanatophobia was multifaceted; it was partially caused by an underlying fear of failure and isolation. Subconsciously, I saw my life as pointless because I would never fulfill my parents', my family's and most importantly, my expectations of myself. The potential lack of a sense of personal value prompted a sense of lack of meaning in my life and led to a sudden fear of mortality. I was also partially afraid of death because of its supposed isolation, the possibility of being alone forever. It explained why my panic attacks were always the worst at night right before I went to sleep, when I was alone with my thoughts. The discovery of these two causal fears showed me the importance of intrinsic self-acceptance of personal worth and relationships in my life. Fortified with this knowledge, I know now to focus on these aspects of my life; to dedicate my time to more meaningful relationships, achieving and setting reasonable goals for myself and pursuing what I love.

I came out of this experience not with a clearer definition of the meaning of life nor a better understanding of death itself, but rather, with a greater understanding of myself and my world. I still think about death sometimes, but I'm no longer afraid or sad. Instead, I feel a sense of gratitude. I'm grateful for the opportunity to be alive, for my family and friends, for my wellbeing and intellect, but most importantly, I'm grateful for this experience because it has given me an incredible opportunity for further self-exploration and appreciation.

I know I'm going to die someday. But that someday isn't today.

Word Count: 551

This essay is intended for review by an undergrad university admissions review panel/committee. Because it is written under the assumption that the reviewer(s) will have read a countless number of college essays, it possesses the intent of being somewhat original and unique by choosing a subject matter that is not as common (or I hope not). I had hoped to convey a tone of sincerity and honesty because this was honestly a very significant moment of my life. However due to the particular nature of this experience, I fear it may have some woeful or pitiful element inherent in the story. I hope that I was successful in avoiding a 'woe-is-me' tale and taken the opportunity to produce a genuinely reflected and evaluated story of an experience that has had profound meaning on my life.

What kind of schools should I be aiming for with this essay?
Does the essay convey the tone I want it to?
Advice? Feedback? All welcome!
Thanks in advance!

JessEllen 3 / 3  
Sep 18, 2011   #2
It wasn't long,however,

because after all, death is inevitable

"But it is its exact unquestionable inevitability (mankind's lack of control over their fate), coupled with the unknown and unfelt experience of death and the questions of existentialism it raises that exacerbated my fear and anxiety." This sentence is too wordy, can you cut it down?

Fortified with this knowledge, I know now to focus on these aspects of my life. I can dedicate my time to more meaningful relationships, achieve and set reasonable goals for myself and pursue what I love.

While I still think about death sometimes, but I'm no longer afraid or sad.

Great Essay! I love the ending :) Good luck!


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