In tears at Barnes & Nobles

I went to Barnes & Nobles this afternoon on a mission: to get inspired by brilliant essays written by past seniors vying for the attention of top colleges nationwide. With the help of one of the store clerks, I discovered the store’s collection of “essays that worked” books, talked my sister into helping me absorb the genius of past 17-year-old seniors, and sat with her at the only area of the store with seating: the kiddie book section.

I had the most depressing time at it. One collection of winning college applications essays, published by the Princeton Review, also included profiles of the essay authors. I never got to reading their actual essays. While reading about these students’ academic lives, I weighed their accomplishments against mine. Entrepreuners/holders of 4.12 GPAs/editors of award-winning newspapers – all in one; I saw people like this over and over again, and thought, they sure as hell did not need any kind of essay to get them into the colleges they’re in. I just felt so inadequate, insignificant, and stupid for thinking that I had any kind of chance at a top 50 university, and I cried.

I’ve been mulling over my essay since I created my Common App account. I’ve written draft after draft, had teachers and sisters and family friends read over it, noted their suggestions. I’ve sat in front of my family computer many times in futile attempts to conquer my essay and roll out perfection, keeping in mind the fact that admissions counselors read hundreds of essays, and I have to both work at not seeming like I tried to hard–but then try super hard to make my words stand out in their minds. I just feel so dry, so drained. 

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