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Social anxiety, academic failure - My Common App Personal Statement

Learn2Do89 1 / 2 1  
Jan 8, 2020   #1

Social anxiety, academic failure

This is my peronal statement for the Common App. It talks about an incident with my girlfriend, and how I used my writing skills to help resolve some of her issues. Any feedback is appreciated.

Here's Prompt:
Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.

Here's the essay:

Every morning, my girlfriend would ask me how I was feeling. Each time, I would say fine: not because that was how I would always feel but because that was what she wanted to hear. I liked her because of that, always considerate with a positive attitude. Until she wasn't.

One day, instead of asking how I was doing, she asked for my opinion over her appearance. It went like this many days after, as she questioned me about her weight, her makeup, her smile, and even her eyes. I told her each time that it didn't matter to me how she looked, and that I loved her all the same, but each time I felt she was ignoring my sentiments. She was feeling insecure about her self-image, and I knew I wasn't helping with these shallow compliments.

So I did the only thing I could do. I wrote her a short story about us. It was both a romantic gesture, a helping hand, and a stop sign to her obsession.

From my little green notebook in 2nd grade to Google Drive, writing has been an important hobby in my life. Inspired by the anime and cartoons I watched during elementary school, I wrote fun, "black-and-white" tales of confident heroes that fought diabolical villains. Eventually, however, as I lived through a tumultuous teenage life and approached adulthood, I wrote stories with greater, emotional complexity. I abandoned my fantastical world-building in favor of stories that focused on everyday struggles and internalized conflicts, set within realistic settings. The subject matter became more intimate, as newer protagonists were envisioned with vulnerabilities unbefitting of knights in shining armor. In these stories there were no definitive villains to fight; instead the conflicts revolved around the inner demons that can haunt one's psyche. A far cry to the early, romanticized stories of heroism, my modern interpretations communicated the emotional struggles and personal resilience of my teenage life.

While I can understand social anxiety, academic failure, and losing a tough track event, as a male, I may never understand my girlfriend's personal issues. I for one have never been ashamed of my appearance: I come to school everyday with uncombed hair and an oily face. But I can relate to her self-loathing feelings, talk about the dangers of self-destructive expectations, and communicate the importance of self-love. A story wasn't the BEST way to help her, but it was the only way I COULD help her.

So drawing on my own experiences and incorporating her personal problems, I wrote a pastoral romance of childhood friends atop a hill overlooking a valley. One friend had to move far away, and it was apparent that this may be the last time they'll see each other. The two swore to return 10 years to their meeting point atop the hill. They knew their appearances would change, and that they may become different people altogether; but if they can just remember that hill, they knew their friendship would last.

No matter her appearance, what I love most about my girlfriend is her bubbly personality and can-do attitude. When we finally split and go off to college, what our friends will remember most about each of us are the times we've put smiles across their faces, and the accomplishments we've achieved. We didn't need to be/appear perfect. We just needed to be ourselves, and that was good enough for the people that truly matter.

After showing her the story, she admitted that she was going through some self-image issues, and appreciated my help. Our relationship got better, as she felt better about herself, knowing full well that I would always love her for she was. On my part, I was simply glad that she was her old self again, because that was always my end goal: to write a personal story with important messages so that someone may lead a happier life.

Holt  Educational Consultant - / 10,127 3267  
Jan 12, 2020   #2
The essay has to focus on a personal issue that involves you. It should not center around the romantic relationship that you had with your girlfriend. As I read the essay, I learned more about your girlfriend and her character than I did about you. The reviewer is not interested in your girlfriend or your romantic relationship. He is interested in learning about you and how you build your character through these various activities or skills. I am strongly advising you to change the whole essay. You can still write about your gift as a story teller. You just have to actually make the whole essay about you instead of someone else. After all, it isn't your girlfriend who is applying for admission to the university.
OP Learn2Do89 1 / 2 1  
Jan 13, 2020   #3
Can I still mention my girlfriend to some extent in the essay? I honestly revolved my essay around her "issues" because I want to express myself as a storyteller that commentates on larger, contemporary problems and provokes personal point-of-views within impactful stories. I'll restructure the essay, but can I still mention this entire experience to emphasize my artistic ambitions and capability for empathy? To a greater extent, can I still frame my goals as a storyteller and person for change around this incident?

I also don't understand the part where I should "focus on a personal issue that involves [me]". The prompt asks for me to elaborate on an interest or talent (in this case creative writing). Is it really necessary for me to start talking about my personal issues? I ask because I may not have the word count neccessary to start focusing on a personal issue of mine. In fact the sentence: "I can understand social anxiety, academic failure, and losing a tough track event" is all I could really mention when writing within the 650 word count. Is it paramount then that I have that mention?

Thanks for replying because whatever feedback is greatly appreciated.
sky004 1 / 3  
Jan 13, 2020   #4
"Show, don't tell" is vital to writing an engaging essay, and this is the point students struggle with most. Instead of saying, "I struggled to make friends when I transferred schools," you can show your emotions by writing, "I scanned the bustling school cafeteria, feeling more and more forlorn with each unfamiliar face. I found an empty table and ate my lunch alone."

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