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Undergraduate Posts: 6

Sloppy Joe Symphony - Common App Draft; something that sparked a period of personal growth


SmolBean15 1 / 2  
Oct 29, 2018   #1
Hi! I could use a lot of help, and I'm open to any suggestions! Thanks for taking the time to help!

Prompt: Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.

Sloppy Joe Symphony


Silence fills the air as I pull out the recipe. My dog sits beside me, thumping her tail as I pull up my sleeves in preparation. I acknowledge her enthusiasm with a smile as I reach for my spatula. With a deep breath, I turn back to my podium and prepare to conduct the Sloppy Joe Symphony.

Movement one is mainly rhythmic, with sounds of the refrigerator door, the soft thuds of found ingredients on the counter, and the angry chopping of the knife. The piece starts with a mellow feel to it by smoothly slicing through the bell pepper, then suddenly exploding with the tearful emotion of the diced onion. The movement ends abruptly with a desperate need to wipe my eyes and blink the pain away.

This is not the only time that cooking has brought me to tears. My first encounter with this recipe was a couple weeks after tearing my ACL last year. I was heartbroken after weeks on the couch, feeling absolutely useless. When I was finally able to hobble around, I needed to find something that I could do on my own. My mom, the Pampered Chef, suggested I take up cooking. When I did, I discovered a way that I regain some control in my life, and create these amazing compositions for me, and for my family.

The second movement comes to life with the soft sizzle of coconut oil. The pepper and onion accompany the melody with a bold harmony, providing the perfect fanfare for what's to come. I linger here, letting it pick up some steam. After a few minutes, the melody shifts into dense block chords as the ground beef is added. I reach for my spatula and start hacking away at the meat, increasing the tempo until all that remains are fragmented notes, fifths among sevenths, mixing and complementing the background harmony of veggies.

Chaos ensues in the third moment, revving up with a countermelody from the sauce. Color notes appear, introducing the flavors of new ingredients sizzling in the saucepan. In a passionate fervor, I start improvising, throwing in oregano, pepper, basil, insecurity, worry, ridding everything clouding my mind until I need to set my baton down to take a deep breath.

I often felt this overwhelmed as I recovered from the knee injury. I hadn't ever faced a obstacle as limiting before. My frustration kept building as I continuously found different things I couldn't do, like expressing myself through dance, taking solo drives on the weekend, and going on simple walks with the dog. Cooking became an outlet where this frustration could explode among the frothing ingredients and boiling passion, and melt away as the heat subsided.

The fourth movement begins with clashing chords as the sauce mixes with the melody. They fight to harmonize until a balance is reached and one perfect chord rings true. The chord strengthens over time until finally, the pan is taken off of the heat. I put my baton down as the music fades slowly to a close.

The first time I conducted the symphony, I felt overjoyed. I proved to myself that I wasn't useless, I wasn't powerless, because I created this amazing piece. Sure, it wasn't beautiful, it was a messy jumble of sloppy joe-but music isn't always beautiful. Sometimes it's the crunchy chords and the changing melody that tells the story, and makes it special. I know my life has full of dissonance lately, but I know someday that it will resolve into something spectacular. Until then, I have this symphony to guide me through.

I bring the pan to the table, and invite my family to join me at the table. Movement five is rhythmic, relating back to the beginning of the piece, except it is full of sliding chairs, clinking utensils, and friendly chatter. I smile as I hear the hums of satisfaction the subtly linger on through the meal, until finally the fermata is cut off and the symphony is brought to an end.

lynnlynn 2 / 4 1  
Oct 29, 2018   #2
I like this story a lot. It definitely grabs my attention and it shows how good of a writer you are, but the point of a personal statement is to show who you are as a person, not a writer. You should emphasize more on how the ACL impacted you or maybe show more about how cooking relates to ACL/knee injury. Comparing what you experienced to cooking is great but I feel like the spotlight is more on the description of your cooking instead of your personal growth.
Holt [Contributor] - / 7,179 1785  
Oct 30, 2018   #3
Alesyka, due to the actual lack of focus of this presentation of either an accomplishment, event, or realization, it is difficult for me to say that there is a true period of personal growth in this discussion. This does not follow the parameters set for an essay of that type. However, you did write an essay that has an interesting presentation of a different side of your personality. That means this essay can still be useful to your application if you change the prompt. I was thinking that you should do just that by using the following prompt instead for this essay:

Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you've already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.

The prompt I presented to you fits your essay perfectly because you don't really write about anything that is of the utmost importance to your application, and yet, you have an essay that presents a side of your personality the common app prompts don't allow you to discuss. So why not use this essay anyway, just change the prompt to better suit the content? It's just a suggestion that I hope you will consider.
OP SmolBean15 1 / 2  
Oct 30, 2018   #4
@Holt
I really appreciate your feedback. I think that prompt is also a better fit, but is there any downside to not choosing one of the prompts they offered?

@lynnlynn
Do you think more reflection would help the essay? I'm just scared to make it too cheesy... but I do understand what you're saying, and I really appreciate your opinion. And I'll try to help with your essay too!
Holt [Contributor] - / 7,179 1785  
Oct 31, 2018   #5
Alesyka, the essay prompt choices are usually the same for most university applications. If the university you are applying to does not include the prompt I provided as on of the choices then it would be best not to change he prompt but edit the content instead. For your essay, you will need to write a totally new essay that would really show a period of realization that led to a personal development.

Like I said, what you wrote does not deliver tha requirement. So it is either you change the prompt to a more relevant one or, write a new essay basedd on a more in-depth analysis of an event in your life that could be applied to the prompt requirements. Sometimes it is better to simply change the prompt. Others who have an attachment to the prompt topic tend to write a new essay because they find the prompt very interesting to write about. So in the end, the decision is left up tp you. I can only offer guidance to help ypu make the right decision for yourself.
spelkey 1 / 3 1  
Oct 31, 2018   #6
This story reminds me of a personal experience in my past that I have written about. I have written a couple essays using this same format, something you have been thru and it has received good results. Be sure to use the format that the Professor is looking for and also any citations that need to be made. I feel that if you have experienced or been thru a situation then you will tend do due better writing based on the knowledge you have by experiencing it personally.


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