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things i want to say in my grad school essays but can’t, because cliché

And we can’t have that, can we.

Constructing a personal statement for a graduate school application is so much more of a task than it seems. It’s crazy to think that as a teenager, those 500 words of insight into the minimal life experience I did have (‘being captain of the varsity waterpolo team taught me how to be such a good leader!!’) was enough to get me into Davis. Now, I’m tasked with crafting a reflection on the last six years of my ‘adult’ life into an expository essay that will convince the admissions people that I’m more qualified than all the others to write about the world.

I want to go to school to learn how to write professionally for a living and for fuck’s sake, I can’t even write 750 words about myself.

Among things I’ve written and then deleted because I can’t re-read them without cringing:

I’m very proud of the simple things I have accomplished thus far, and am confident that they have all led me to further my education in journalism. What does this even mean.

I’ve always been involved in a wide variety of activities. Said every middle-class seventeen-year-old-former-Girl-Scout in the National Charity League that wants to get into an Ivy.

Trying to plan for my future in the six months leading up to graduation from UC Davis made me more anxious than I can ever remember being. Because everyone wants to hear about my first world problems.

This is the story of how one moment of panic and angst manifested itself into a year of growth, humility, and contentedness… Everyone knows what the central thesis of Eat, Pray, Love is and has no desire to read that book again.

I’ve gravitated towards the field of journalism since my high school years. As I have towards shopping, boys, bagels, booze… GARBAGE GARBAGE GARBAGE

Having hardly any formal training in the field has allowed me to find my own voice. And I’m sure everyone appreciates the never-ending wall of unstructured word vomit as a result.

I’ve managed to let all the second guessing get in my own way, again! It’s a paralyzing feeling to think that after all this that come March, when all the admission decisions get mailed out, all the effort could all amount to nothing. I’d feel really stupid about being in an incessant bad mood for a month. I’d feel like I was letting down everyone who supported me, tolerated me, wrote me recommendation letters.

There’s a UC Berkeley advertisement above the escalator at the Embarcadero BART station that I see every day on my way home from work. It goes “YOUR DREAM JOB IS SOMEONE ELSE’S DREAM JOB, WHAT WILL GIVE YOU AN EDGE?” As if that jarring message is necessary on either end of my commute. It took me at least a couple of weeks to see it and not react by tweaking out about how I was spending my time.

The thought of not being good enough is pretty devastating. But isn’t this what we learn time and time again, that only putting yourself out there, as vulnerable as it might make us feel, is the only way to move forward? How many jobs have we interviewed for, people have we pursued, ideas have we pitched, that didn’t ultimately come through for us?

With these thoughts in mind, I somehow I managed to crank out final drafts I was semi-satisfied with and submit them on time. Thankfully, this round of applications is over and I can cease the internal philosophical debate over whether chasing down fate or letting fate happen to me is the better way to go. One of the many mental crises that plague millennials. How difficult is this life.

To further epitomize my generation, I bought a ticket to Europe when the due dates were a week away so that I could just bounce after submitting. The subsequent two weeks away were glorious. Pictures to come.

And if nothing else, it’s crazy what a simple font change and a giant pot of Earl Grey can do for your productivity.

LC

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