This is quite a personal one, but I hope it can be of some help to you guys. :) It’s about writing and being introverted. Like any admissions person will tell you, the best essays aren’t on unusual or unique topics—you’d be hard-pressed to find one, anyway. They’re on common things, the stuff of high school—activities, family, personal development. What’s most important is that you choose a topic that best represents you and write honestly. Without further ado, here’s my take! (650 words exactly, I’ve never been too concise…)
Describe a place or environment where you are perfectly content. What do you do or experience there, and why is it meaningful to you?
It’s anything but quiet here. Within my own mind, I run an inner dialogue, sharing all my quips and observations with an imaginary audience. This has always been where I am most comfortable.
Limiting my self-expression to the thick boundary of my cranium made for a quiet, anxiety-ridden childhood. I rarely spoke in class, desiring invisibility wherever I went. Instead of joining in games and conversation, I tended to act as an observer to phenomena - like a nervous Jane Goodall.
However, my introspection also made for a wonderfully thoughtful and creative childhood essential to my character today.
I read avidly, idolizing the bravery and goodness of my favorite characters. This fostered in me a strong sense of idealism. I aspired to be just as kind, compassionate, and clever; I expected everyone - from peers to politicians - to meet the same pillars of goodness.
Closely following my love of reading came the pursuit of writing. I rewrote chapters of my favorite novels in my own voice, which helped me appreciate different styles of writing and, most important, my own. I began to appreciate that my voice was not gentle and empathetic like JK Rowling’s or hilarious and irreverent like Roald Dahl’s. As a merging of all my most beloved readings, favorite authors’ styles, and dearest values, my voice could stand alone.
Writing became self-expression with which I was comfortable. I wrote boldly and honestly. Transferring my mental dialogue to paper, I felt relief as my thoughts became external, physical.
Reading the torn-out journal entries, school assignments, and novelas that compose my life’s work, I can track my defining interests of the last decade: if something was important to me, I wrote about it.
In fourth grade, I wrote of dragons, battle wounds, and protecting those closest to me. I fancied myself the brave, outgoing narrator, longing for some real-life character development.
In seventh, I wrote about standing up to bullies who are also your closest friends. I felt strengthened, forceful, through the gentle tap of my fingertips on keys.
In eighth, I wrote my first op-ed-style pieces, about the complete injustice of the pet hedgehog’s illegal status in California. I sent the essay to my district’s state senator, Joe Simitian. Months later I received a kind response detailing how to affect change for my cause. Unfortunately, my hedgehog bill never came to fruition.
In a writing program the summer before junior year, I wrote about falling in love with a friend of the same sex and coping with heartbreak. The writing was raw, my tone bleaker than it had ever been before. In an unplanned moment of blind courage, I shared the piece with my instructor. She said it was outstanding and I should share it with the whole group, if I felt comfortable doing so. I decided not to.
This year, I transformed the concept of same-sex love and loss into an experimentally structured and thematic short story for a local paper’s contest. I won second place and felt a rush of nervousness as the piece was published to the entire area. Responses were encouraging, supportive, and gentle. I felt empowered.
Today, I am still comfortable within the confines of my own mind. But unlike the younger Val, I am most content when I allow myself to escape them. Conversing with friends, winning debates in history, and leading English seminars, I learn that the best conversations are spoken with others, not myself.
Through writing, I can share my thoughts on hedgehogs, dragons, love, and injustice. I can connect and inspire; there is no better feeling. The bravery that I longed for in my childhood is here.
At the short story reception, a woman approached me, confessing that my story brought her to tears and was her favorite of all the entries. Before disappearing into the crowd, she told me never to stop writing.
I doubt I ever will.