Common App Admissions Essays

Living Deliberately


Describe a place or environment where you are perfectly content. What do you do or experience there, and why is it meaningful to you?

Bare skin meets raw iron. Such a relationship can only be found in this exact situation. The focus is so intense that nothing else matters. Pure concentration and expression translating into perfect execution - it's a physical marvel. It's the art of the perfect lift.

Each time I grab the stretch of metal, I feel a sense of euphoria. It's as if there is nothing in the entire universe other than me and the bar. It's as if the safety of the world relies on my ability to get this bar off the ground.

Each time I grab the stretch of metal, blood rapidly pumps through my veins. The tension at the top of the movement feels like that of a rubber band, waiting to explode. As the tension is released, my muscles begin to feel the worst pain they ever have. Maintaining perfection in the lift becomes harder and harder as time progresses. Eventually, failure seems imminent. My entire nervous system is screaming for mercy. I begin to feel like I am being punished for every wrongdoing in the history of mankind.


Only in the gym can human limits be tested so intensely. Only in the gym can every single muscle in the human body be activated. Only in the the gym can such strain be placed on the mind through the necessity to adapt to the infinite amount of variables that come with each individual repetition. Only in the gym can both the yin and yang of the homo sapien be tested so fiercely, and so equally.

Weightlifting is an art form. Just as music or literature, it is a tool for self discovery and experimentation with human potential. On the surface, it seems so simple. However, as one delves further and further into it, its complexity is revealed.

While executing a lift, there are thousands of things to be kept track of. In a deadlift, one must keep the back straight, chest up, triceps locked, head up, hands outside the shins - the list goes on and on. However, these things are learned through experience, I have learned new guidelines during every trip to the gym. There are always new things to be learned, whether it's learning new strategies or perfecting the old. As I have learned more and more about each particular exercise, I have developed a better understanding of how all of these minute details connect; a better understanding of how they come together to build an ideal lift.

Lifting at the gym has improved my ability to not only pick up heavy things, but to perceive on an exponentially deeper level. Humans aren't physiologically designed to lift such heavy weight on a regular basis. Therefore, the mind-muscle connection I develop to make these lifts strengthens my ability to understand my own body on a deeper level. Through lifting, I've been able to activate muscles that an average person will never even recognize. This connection is magnified by the isolated nature of lifting, allowing me to achieve a sense of clarity in its purest form. The harnessing of both the body and mind is unexpected, and such activation is unmatched. This makes the outcome that much more wonderful to experience; that much more beautiful.


Henry David Thoreau lived in the woods in order to "live deliberately". The gym is my personal forest. I have the opportunity to take human expectations, and destroy them. I'm able to focus on the most minuscule of muscles without interruption. I'm granted solitude in this world of constant distraction.

Today's world and its complications seemingly don't allow such control. It's only thanks to the woods that I am permitted to experience it.


Essays That Worked

Read the top 146 college essays that worked at Common App and more. Learn more.

Buy Now

Keep reading more Common App admissions essays — you can't be too prepared!

Tip: Use the ← → keys to navigate!

How to cite this essay (MLA)

Anonymous Student. "Living Deliberately" Study Notes, LLC., 18 Dec. 2014. Web. 16 Apr. 2024. <>.