Common App Admissions Essays

Defeating the Devil Inside


The lessons we take from failure can be fundamental to later success. Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?


Often, people look back on their failures and obsess over how they could have prevented their mistakes. They ask themselves, "What could I have done differently?" The answer is not worth discovering. Focusing on unforeseen outcomes hinders our ability to pick ourselves up and move forward with strong broadening steps. I, however, view these failures as fundamental life lessons that have shaped my life in a plethora of ways. 

As I entered into the fifth grade, I was unaware of the depleting health status that my life would encounter within that year. Soon, my wide, beaming smile would dwindle into a firm line across my face. Food became less enjoyable, and it started to scare me. All of the small, trivial aspects of being a child were not enjoyed. I stood out, but for reasons that none of my peers could understand.

Anorexia Nervosa controlled my day like a clock. At 7 a.m., I would run up and down the staircase; climbing each step became laborious. Then, I would perform abdominal and strength exercises until my limbs felt like limp noodles. My usual breakfast of two waffles with syrup and peanut butter slowly diminished to filling a bowl with whole-wheat cereal and refusing to eat it. My mind started to whisper to me that I should just surrender and leave the world behind. The mirror became my greatest scoffer, telling me that I wasn't thin enough. 

"Just five more pounds and I'll look skinnier," I murmured in front of the mirror. 

Rib bones protruded from underneath my skin, but I still did not view my body as “fit” or thin enough. I was four feet and nine inches—64 pounds. I was twenty pounds less than when I had graduated from the fourth grade. I could no longer focus in a class and plucked away the fine brown hair from my eyebrows. My soft shiny hair became coarse and brittle, lacking the fullness and liveliness it once had. Simple trips to the store resulted in nearby customers questioning my mother what was wrong with me and why I looked emaciated. Within a month of my eating disorder, my parents were scared for my life and took me to Womack Army Medical Hospital to be treated for Anorexia Nervosa.

“We're here to help you conquer this and live the life you deserve,” my psychologist Dr. Edenfield sincerely stated.

These words echoed in my mind and were the driving force for eradicating my eating disorder. I instinctively dug down deep into my soul, for I had a purpose in this life; failure was never a viable option nor should it be my gravestone. Both Dr. Edenfield and my nutritionist worked closely together to monitor my food intake with daily journals. Each week, I walked straight to the scale, slipped off my shoes, breathed a heavy sigh, and told myself I wanted to live. I needed to gain this weight. I wanted to defeat this laughing devil that was constantly taking the life out of my crystal blue eyes.

By the end of those eight months, that devil was crushed and vanquished from my life. I returned back to a healthy 88 pounds and one and a half inches taller; doctors considered this close to a miracle since I had stunted my growth dramatically.      

         When my life was in the deepest pits of despair and failure seemed unavoidable, there still remained a thirst for life. As I kept drinking from the fountain of strength, I found success. In order to fully defeat failure, I had to discover bravery, untold courage, and faith within myself. As I reflect on my battle with Anorexia Nervosa, I realize that it never consumed my life but rather shaped me into a better person, one who was unshakable by the slightest of miseries.


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)

Stephenson, Jennifer. "Defeating the Devil Inside" Study Notes, LLC., 27 Sep. 2015. Web. 13 Jul. 2024. <>.