a guide to the common app essay

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radhika and myself circa november 2015

the common app’s personal essay isn’t like any other essay i’ve ever written. it’s not often that you’re asked to summarize your entire being in a piece of writing, but that’s what the collegeboard wants you to do. that’s a pretty daunting task, and it’s completely understandable if you’re not sure how to go about it—this essay differs significantly from the kind you’re usually asked to write, the old intro/body/conclusion type of thing. Continue reading

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you, me, and some brain vomit: thank you for everything

prince and rose

the prince and his rose, of course

i had a hard time deciding whether to write this post.

it wasn’t that i didn’t want to thank you—i did, very much. it was just that putting out a thank you felt arrogant, like i was a hotshot celebrity with a fanbase instead of some kid with an internet connection. i thought for a while about whether it was okay to be doing this, and i came to the conclusion that it’s always a good move to thank people, especially when your reasons are as real as mine. Continue reading

hannah, you’re being a straight white guy: how men and straight people play into romantic relationships between women

pokernight2

poker night (from a streetcar named desire) by thomas hart benton (1948)

you’re treating me like some kind of romantic object. i mean, you’re being a straight white guy.

i reacted to the message the same way i would have if a brick wall had sprouted up in front of me: by skidding to a full stop. this was a bad move, because i was standing in front of the exit to my high school, and the last class period had ended minutes before. the girl behind me promptly barreled into my back in her eagerness to get out of the building. she glared at me and made her way through the door without a word.

as i wandered down the pathway which parallels the front of my school, there was nothing more i could do but message back, you’re right. i’m sorry. i’ll try to be better. Continue reading

excellence through effort (or whatever): favorite moments at mhs

we all know halmonie got me through school

i often say that i hate manhasset high.

it comes with a grin because i’m trying to be a bit wry. if you pay close attention, there’s a sparkle in my eye which will indicate to my listener that i don’t actually hate my high school. sure, i have problems with its students’ elitism and the ridiculous amount of academic pressure which is dropped on everyone’s shoulders. i also wouldn’t complain if we had toilet paper in more stalls during eighth period or if we bought working pencil sharpeners instead of renovating our tennis courts. and let’s be honest, if the administration would chill out enough to let seniors actually enjoy their lives after ap testing is over, we’d all be a little happier and no worse off. Continue reading

that feeling of catharsis: some thoughts on writing, language, and power

 

everythingwas

from kurt vonnegut’s slaughterhouse-five (1969)

“you got a journal going there?” my econ teacher said, chucking me gently on the shoulder as he walked by. “good for you.”

i smiled at him as he sat down opposite me. i wanted to tell him that it was actually a writer’s notebook, but i had to hold my vow for the day of silence, so i just blinked as pleasantly as possible in his direction.

a few minutes passed as we both became engrossed in our work. i set my head down on my arm, my nose only a few inches from the marks of my pen. there’s a certain groove i like to hit when i write—a feeling of mental catharsis i always crave, i’d say—and i was almost there. my teacher looked over and remarked, “you must have some pretty interesting stuff in there, kid.” Continue reading

do i get the gold chariot? do i float through the ceiling?

 

the yellow christ

le christ jaune (the yellow christ) by paul gauguin (1889)

(i had this song on repeat while i was writing this post.

it should also be noted that i use the terms “belief system” and “religion” interchangeably within this post, but i do understand the difference between the two, and how the former is not necessarily the latter. i just chose to group them together for clarity and the reader’s sake, without going into semantics. smiley face.)

i wasn’t raised in a particularly religious family, and as a result, i am not a particularly religious person. i was baptized, but my family isn’t a churchgoing one, and my parents and i didn’t have too many discussions about god as i grew up. my mom pretty much told me that i was allowed to choose what i believed in, and that was that.

Continue reading

sound and fury, signifying nothing

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masks by emil nolde (1911)

i hate being angry. or, i guess i hate being personally angry.

i like my anger to stay political. it feels valid that way, sitting comfortably within the confines of righteous historical context. i feel like being politically angry = fighting injustice and doing good on behalf of other people. the reasons for this type of anger are rooted in the outside world—they are tangible, seeable, readable. you can look them in the face if you so dare. Continue reading