An Unpleasant Essay

3 March 2019

The past month of my life can be summed up in four simple words: I hate college essays.
This obnoxious species of required papers have enjoyed spiting me, and causing my stress level to fluctuate every other day as I’ve walked past my computer and remembered the fact that they still remain unfinished. And the mere mere fact that these are the papers that could potentially be the deciding factor as to whether or not I am accepted into the colleges of my choice, therefore having a significant role in determining my future success, makes me want to vomit.

Every time I sit down with the motivation to finish, these unpleasant creations of college admissions offices love to laugh at me. With every correction that I make, every red ink edit mark that I scratch onto the paper, I give my papers reason to spite me with the knowledge that I haven’t got it quite right yet, and lately I’ve been fearing that maybe I never will. Lately I’ve been thinking that these essays will be my downfall.

I can’t easily ignore the growing notion in my brain of simply not writing them. This prospect would definitely be healthier for my current frazzled state of mind, to say the least. And I must admit that the urge to follow the path of Chris McCandless, throwing away all ties to civilization for a life of packaged rice and David Thoreau, has become suspiciously stronger lately. It sounds rash at first, but a world without college essays snickering at poor students’ faces would be a much happier one.

When I think about how my life would be without the annoyance of college essays, maybe even a world without college applications altogether, I picture a world that’s carefree. Just me and my senior year, enjoying the ride until graduation. And summer would be great; I wouldn’t have orientation, I wouldn’t have to shop for dorm supplies, and I would never again have to experience that feeling of dread that everyone gets as school creeps around the corner. There wouldn’t be another four years for me. No more years of torturous late nights and teachers who just don’t seem to listen or give a second thought to their students’ education. That would be the life.

But what would happen after that? I couldn’t work at an office; I wouldn’t have a degree. I couldn’t be a children’s ministry director; I wouldn’t have learned how to do it. The only option that seems realistic is the prospect of flipping burgers wearing a red visor, or something to that effect.

What else could that future hold? Jobs with minimum pay and no sense of accomplishment, no education to go out into the world with, no reason to consider me for a good job. I’ve heard that the four years spent in college are the ones that matter most, that those are the years when living on your own is something experienced and put into practice. In college, the person that walked out of the high school doors starts as a high school student, but transforms into the person that they were meant to be. If I decide not to write my essays, I won’t have that experience. I’ll be stuck as an ex-high school student, never maturing in the same way as all of my friends. They could live their lives, and I would be stuck right where they left me: with nothing.

I can’t get anywhere, do anything, or amount myself to someone worth being without writing these essays. I have to put in the work before I can reap the benefits of life. The only way I’ll ever be able to reach my goal of being a ministry director is to suffer through the stress and turmoil of college and learn how to be an adult. To be an adult that can teach and nurture kids, giving them all of the love and experience that I will have gained. That view of my future fills my heart with anticipation, because the thought of be able to do what I love is the best future I could ever imagine.

The folder on my computer desktop labeled ‘college essays’ laughs at me every time I make eye contact. It knows that what it holds inside could be what determines my future. That fact alone makes me want to throw the folder away and be rid of it once and for all. But as tempting as life in the Alaskan wilderness, or life without the chance to go to college may sound to me when I remember the belligerent pieces of writing sitting in my computer, a life where I can be the person I’m meant to be, the person who I know I can achieve becoming, sounds much better. If I do nothing, I’ll never receive anything. I have to give in order to take. I have to write those essays. I need to finish them in order to get where I want to be going. I need to put in the effort, or I will get nothing.

And all of the sudden, the more work I put in, the less frightening those essays seem. Word my word, sentence by sentence; they come together to form something that I can be confident in. And I realize that these essays aren’t all that unpleasant; they are a small piece of me that I get to show the world. A piece of writing that shows you I am, and who I hope to become. A person who finally understands the meaning of hard work: not as a necessary evil, but something that I want to invest myself in so that I can have the chance to chase my dreams. And as I conquer the essays, and the snickering stops, I realize a very relaxing fact: that wasn’t so bad.

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