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'I felt lost. It was as if I was stuck in a rut.' Criticism wanted on my common app personal essay

keavdarapper 3 / 5  
Dec 27, 2014   #1
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.

I felt lost. It was as if I was stuck in a rut. Complacency diseased my mind and heart with boredom; my mother knew this, and she had taken me to the "doctor" to get it fixed. When we arrived, I watched intently - observed almost scientifically as my mother handed the man $350. No sooner had the transaction ended that my words attacked her; the air resounded with booming thanks and piercing gratitude. I had my bike. After a couple minutes of admiring the contraption (about the time it takes for my mother's patience to run out), she suggested that we go home; I agreed, but not on her conditions. After much bargaining, it was agreed that I was to embark on a thrilling ride back home while she rode away in her mundane, moving mass of metal.

The bike soon became my friend; however, the bike is, by no means, a friend of my complacency - constantly it challenges me like it did when my friends and I rode from Chinatown to Venice Beach. The ride was a grueling 17 miles littered with hills, stoplights (both being mortal nemeses of fixed gear bikes), and the rays of a beating sun. As we approached the corner of 6th Street and Grand Avenue, we looked up at the asphalt mountain in front of us; I was the last of three to go. Only having a single gear, the idea of biking up the hill was menacing. With each forward motion came clenched teeth, guttural grunts, perspiration, and a burning sensation in the legs comparable only to the fires of eternal damnation itself - and I loved it. I did not understand why; the feeling was completely antithetical to the teachings I have grown around. Life was something to be made easier, more convenient, and less abrasive; yet, here I was, purposefully placing myself in front of trial and tribulation.

Amidst this testosterone-induced frenzy, I looked up to see my friends in front of me - not far, however - no more than three grunts away. Powerfully gripping the handlebar and ignoring the searing pain in my legs, I pedaled as fast I could - right foot, left foot, right, left, right, left. I propelled myself past Jason in one burst - Ian in two - towards the summit of the urban peak. At the very top, I stopped to appreciate what I had just accomplished (but mostly to catch my breath) and saw the outstretched, steep road before me, heard the bustling of the cars around me, and felt the breeze embrace the beads of sweat on my face; I was satisfied.

The satisfaction soon turned into craving like fullness into hunger. The bike ride up the mountain had instilled in me a love for reaching new personal heights. I could not stay at this height without growing bored of my surroundings. I bask in the thought of exceeding expectations - those of my own, and those of others. I live for the feeling of accomplishment after enduring hardships; and thus, I could no longer find peace in stagnancy, in a comfort zone.

The bike ride resulted in a paradigm shift; nothing would be too difficult, too big of challenge - they would only be difficult, only a challenge. Every quiz, final, job, and career is now an opportunity to excel. I no longer see obstacles (past, present, or future) in my life with contempt or disdain - rather I look at them as a chance to grow. Every hardship I have experienced in my life is seen through this new lens, each shaping my character beneficially and each containing a reward. Complacency would never again bother me as it did; an asphalt summit is only a few pedals away.


MOD comment:One essay at one time please
docnp - / 6 3  
Dec 28, 2014   #2
No joke...the beginning of this essay, aka the first couple sentences, I thought this was a drug deal transaction.

Overall though, I liked how you relate your "pain/suffering" of the biking to your lifestyle and how you are always look to go above and beyond, to be challenged and never complacent as you say.

In my opinion, it might essential, if not good to know how old you were when you first got your bike. If you mention your age back then, and then say something along the lines of "Still to this day" or maybe just where you are at now shows how biking has been a key part of your life and how you have always been striving and excelling. Either that or I am reading it wrong and you are still the same aged boy from when you got the bike all through the essay.

Something to note but I feel like you use a lot of semi-colons when you can just put a comma or a period. Nothing wrong with that but just something I noticed haha.

Overall, pretty nice essay! I would love to see your Dartmouth supplement also!
OP keavdarapper 3 / 5  
Dec 28, 2014   #3
Hahaha, I reread my first couple sentences and pictured the whole drug scene and I gotta admit it's pretty plausible. And yes, I think that's a perfect idea to include an age and show the lasting impact its had on me. :-)

Thank you for your kind feedback and suggestions!

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