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Common Application essay

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Common Application Personal Essay

Prompt – Topic of your choice


If a molecule is soluble only if it is more attracted to water than to itself, then what about Narcissus? Forty minutes into chemistry class and all I could think about was the immortalized character from Greek mythology who wasted away into a flower while staring at his own reflection. Was he more attracted to the water or to himself? Was it his beauty that he found irresistible? Or did he fall in love with the water for its power of reflection?


Do we really love other people or do we just love who we become around them, the way they reflect us? We see our finest selves reflected in the eyes of those we love. We will never know whether Narcissus was in love with himself or with the water. What we do know is that he was seduced, absorbed like a soluble molecule.


Nietzsche said, “If you gaze too long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.” Every day, we risk gazing too long and letting what surrounds us define us, just like Narcissus became as empty and lifeless as his reflection. So what do I surround myself with? And who might I become?


Surrounded by my classmates circling a campfire, I join in a conversation about our goals as seniors. Where do we want to lead and what legacy will we leave? As I listen and contribute, I become a unique part of something bigger than myself. As the campfire sends its smoke up to the stars, I too send my voice up to be part of this greater dialogue. Surrounded by a team in search of a common goal, I take on one identity: a collaborator, determined and impassioned along with my peers.


I am in history class, surrounded by classmates who this time do not agree with me, nor I with them. We are having trouble using “inside voices” while arguing universal morals against relative morality. “There are some things that are inherently wrong,” I argue, “Unprovoked murder. Rape.” But my classmates argue for relative morality, claiming that all actions can be moral under the right circumstances. Surrounded by dissent, I listen and learn from my peers, distinguishing their points as a means to strengthen my own. “But there’s a difference between what is moral and what is understandable. Is an understandable action necessarily moral?” This time, I stand apart, but I am equally determined and passionate. Surrounded by conflicting ideas, I take on yet another identity: a scholar, adapting as I learn from other perspectives, but holding fast to my own.


Surrounded by a team, I have become a teammate. Surrounded by dissent I have become
steadfast. Alone, surrounded by nothing, I become everything I have ever been. I, unlike Narcissus, have heeded Nietzsche’s warning; I have not gazed too long. I can be part of a whole without becoming insignificant and I can grow from the opinions of others without losing my own. I will never let the water absorb me like a soluble molecule. I will listen and learn from the world without losing myself.



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