I had begun so many drafts of this essay that the carpet around my desk looked like a recycling center. I thought an essay about my leadership might somehow impress you. In another attempt, I hoped my sincerity and compassion for others would shine through. But after drafting several paragraphs, I crumpled those unfinished compositions and tossed them over my shoulder.
Frustration is a writer's worst nightmare.
Think about what has most shaped you as a person, I reminded myself.
Struggling for an idea and watching the discarded pages pile up around my feet, I came to the conclusion that those snippets were all part of who I am. But I am more than classes at the high school or college. I am more than the seminars I've attended and the organizations I belong to, more than my grade point average, and way more than my standardized test scores. Additional scribbled sheets of paper flew from my notebook onto the floor as I proposed, then abandoned, ideas.
There must be a way, I thought, to gather all these ideas, package them, and exclaim to Georgetown, "Here I am!" I needed to find a way to tell the admissions staff why I think what I think, feel what I feel, do what I do.
That was Saturday. Sunday I had an epiphany.
I entered church with sleep in my eyes, still agonizing over my essay. Father Bob cleared his throat to begin his homily and I sat up to listen to his words. He began to tell a story about our gifts from God. Why are we given our abilities? Father Bob spoke of our responsibility to use them not for personal benefit, but for those around us. The gifts are not ours to squander, he explained, but a trust we have to make the world a better place.
Now I realized why I have such drive to excel. Now I realized why I push for change in unjust policies. Now I realized what my college essay had to say! Father Bob had performed his first miracle that Sunday morning.
He began to wrap up his homily and my mind started developing this new essay topic. Almost as if he knew I wasn't paying attention, Father Bob's voice boomed, "GEORGETOWN!" If I'd had any doubts that I was receiving divine intervention about this essay, that was like God striking me on the head. I was startled back to attention.
Okay, so he was talking about his clergy work in Georgetown, Kentucky. But who am I to question God's methods? Father Bob had achieved his second miracle.
In listening to Father Bob that morning, I realized that, at this point in my life, I'm not sure I know who I am. But I am achieving a better understanding of why I do what I do and what I want to be. When it would be easier to coast through school, why do I take on a full load of college courses, work a part-time job, intern in my congressman's office, or continue to be a leader in my school's extra-curricular activities?
Why do I push my peers to be socially aware and politically involved? For me, it is a matter of principle. If God gives me the ability to do these things and I waste it, then I am not using my talents as I should. It is a principle of personal responsibility as well as personal accomplishment.
So you see, the parts of me you see in this application are just that - parts. I am those test scores, those grades, clubs, community service, political activism. But the real me is more than those parts. I hope in this you find what Georgetown University is looking for, because I know Georgetown is what I'm looking for. And if I'm admitted, Father Bob will have performed his third miracle. We can start the paperwork for canonization. -
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.