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The Lifetime Challenge within Me - Common App Main Essay

hope123 2 / 15  
Oct 30, 2009   #1
Before you read this, I must warn you that this essay is very plain. I'm short on time and can't really think of a good topic to write about, so I went with the obvious one. I know that I'm taking a huge risk here talking about a disease (which many many many others have done so as well), but again, as I said, I don't have a lot of time, and this topic is very easy for me to write about.

I really didn't follow the conventional style of writing here (if there is one, that is), where the writer would highlight the specific event of experience. But instead, I just implied in the essay that the "significant experience" spanned a long large time period. Is that ok?

I have thoughts on the essay and those are written in red.

Thank you very very much!!! (btw I'm submitting this in TOMORROW, so yea, thanks)

Evaluate a significant experience, achievement, risk you have taken, or ethical dilemma you have faced and its impact on you.

The Lifetime Challenge within Me (Lame title, I know )

I have always loved challenges. When I was little, my friends and I would conjure up bold activities for us to beguile our time. In school, I eagerly competed against my classmates for high grades. I quickly became enamored with these challenges, since I have, for the most part, successfully combated against them. When I was nine, however, I faced a challenge that wasn't particularly endearing to me and one that I may never win, a challenge so palpable that I could feel it in my sinews and bones, yet so unfathomable that if someone had asked me to describe it, I wouldn't be able to do so. I had juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. The ruthless disease attacked my bodily joints and left me bereft of supple movement. For a period of time, I had trouble managing the disease. It was hard not to be frustrated when even simple "tasks" that normal people take for granted such as standing up from a chair or picking up a dropped item entailed an arduous effort.

Pining for complete mobility, I would often find myself gawking at the ease of how others walked, moving so gracefully as if they were glamorous supermodels displaying themselves on the catwalk. Yet one of the most vexing parts of my experience was the inability of others to empathize or even sympathize with me. A young boy's life afflicted with an old man's disease didn't appeal to pity from most. And yet, did I even want their charity? Did I want to be declared second class before I even had any say? As I made way for students to overtake me every morning, some of them haltingly asked the one quizzical question that I had difficulty answering: "Why do you walk like that?"

Perhaps the most perplexing yet exasperating question that I have asked myself over the years is "why me?" One in a thousand - that was the odds of a person getting juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, and that one person just happened to be me. It's like participating in some archaic lottery with a thousand others encircling a spinner. As I the spinner points towards me, I miserably witness the wave of relief on everyone else's faces. And sometimes I pensively dream of the countless possibilities that I would have had if the spinner had not landed on me. A foot to the right or left and maybe I would have the chance to become a professional athlete, or at least have the opportunity to win a physical education award.

But I did win a physical education award. And just how did a boy with arthritis win such an award? Every morning, I woke up early enough to loosen my joints, and every evening, I walked half an hour. After a period of time, I witnessed the rapid transformation of not being able to walk to running with ease. And not long after that, I was rewarded for my efforts.

When I look into the mirror, I don't see brawn. But what I also don't see are the things that lie beneath my skin through years of enduring the disease, the things that are more potent than the efficacy of any medication, more compelling than the words of any skeptic, and more refined than the most polished of diamonds in the world. Those are the things that have gotten me to this point. In a peculiar way, I consider this disease not a bane but a boon for me. It has made me appreciate the value of life, realize that I am still the given the chance to compete against others, and learn that people can be just as successful even when they start from below zero. That's why I set out to do my absolute best.

Too long?
Thanks guys!!!
pcvrz34g 22 / 117  
Oct 31, 2009   #2
okay. first, stop thinking that your essay is bad. it's not as bad as you say it is, so be happy and be optimistic about your paper!

intro is fine. first sentence is fine. it's not the catchy-est thing on earth, but it'll do.

As I make way for students to overtake me every morning, some of them haltingly ask the one quizzical question that I have difficulty answering, "Why do you walk like that?"

that's awkward. idk if its the wording or the tenses or the diction, but it's somehow weird.

you used "vexing" twice. I have a petpeeve about people who use the same adjective twice in a paper. >< Just... in case you didn't know. haha.

And according to my rheumatologist, that was the odds of a person getting juvenile rheumatoid arthritis - 1 in a 1000, and that spinner just happened to point towards me, how fortunate.

what youre trying to say is good but you need to rephrase.

But wait, I did win a physical education award in spite of having arthritis!

uh.. that sentence is kind of outthere.. take it out. it's a bit... contradictory to the rest of the essay's tone.

please read mine
OP hope123 2 / 15  
Oct 31, 2009   #3
Thanks for the feedback! Other than the things you listed above, is there anything else I should strengthen? Did I do a good job of answering the prompt? Should I refine my conclusion more?
OP hope123 2 / 15  
Oct 31, 2009   #4
Here is the revised version of my essay. Can anyone please post some feedback on it? It's kinda due already. I promise I will look at yours! Thanks!

Vulpix - / 71  
Oct 31, 2009   #5
You have a really compelling story here, and I think this will make a great essay.
My main concern is- and a thousand pardons if I am wrong- that it sounds as if you spent too much time with a thesaurus or the synonym finder on Microsoft Word while writing it. There are certain phrases that sound not only awkward, but unnatural: for example,

"Pining for complete mobility, I would often find myself gawk at the facileness of how others walked."

I'm fine with "pining". I'm even fine with "gawk". But "facileness"? I don't know about you, but "facileness" is not the first word that comes to mind when I see someone with a graceful walk. In this case, I think "ease" would sound much smoother.

Your lofty lexicon aside, there are some changes I would make to the structure of your essay. You could probably get rid of your first paragraph entirely or combine it with your second paragraph, since it does nothing for your essay except introduce the concept of challenges, which is already explored in your second paragraph. As for your fourth paragraph, the abstract comparison to a large spinner is interesting, but it could be considerably shortened. Also, I'm curious about your physical education award- what was it? How and why did you win it? If you're going to mention it in your essay, you probably should elaborate a little more.

As for your conclusion, I would consider everything past the sentence "Those are the things that have gotten me to this point" to be the strongest part of your essay. However, I would get rid of the "hey" in your last sentence- that colloquialism just doesn't seem to fit in with the rest of your essay. I would also change the first sentence of your concluding paragraph- "heeding to the image" is a strange-sounding and confusing phrase. It would probably be better to say something like "When I look in the mirror, I don't see physical brawn. But I also don't see the things that like beneath my skin through years of enduring [...]"
OP hope123 2 / 15  
Oct 31, 2009   #6
Thank you very much Vulpix for posting your feedback.

It seems that you have picked out every weak part of the essay. And you're right, I really don't know how to use certain words. I spent a whole summer memorizing the Barron's GRE word list and yet I can't even use them correctly. Sigh
ekfoong 10 / 46  
Nov 1, 2009   #7
What were you doing when you wrote this?
I feel like you were sitting at your computer fiddling with an eraser and eating cereal while you were typing...
I think you need to write with more spontaneity. But, do not change your writing style. Sometimes the best writing just comes to you. think of what you want to say at first and not how you want to say it and write it down! once you have your thoughts in writing... they're visible. You don't have to scour the nooks and crannies of your brain anymore. When you write everything down when you feel it sometimes magic can be created.

I think your first sentence is very cliched.
vulpix pretty much hit everything right on the money.

Be confident. I feel like this is a good start!

sorry I can see that you've already submitted.
Ahhh! sorry I'm so late at replying!

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