Common App Admissions Essays

Defining Yourself

Sometimes in life it is best to take a step back and look at the big picture. With all the demands and commitments that life can put on a person, it is sometimes easy to lose the essence of “the me”… whether it’s a mother trying to balance a job, a family, a house, shopping, meals and a husband; or a student with the pressure of school, sports, clubs, community service and friends to name a few. Where is the time for hobbies, interests and self-exploration? Where is the time to get to know “the me”?

Looking back at freshman year, my life was like a cityscape, busy and vibrant.  I was just another young soul eager to meet life’s challenges. I proudly reached certain goals that defined the student I wanted to be: made it into the science institute: check, varsity soccer: check, a nationally ranked soccer team: check, clubs: check, job: check, volunteer work: check. Am I forgetting anything? Sleep, food, friends, downtime… Who needs it? It turns out the answer is ME!

In this busy canvas, life’s commitments became the artist and I became just a stroke of paint getting stretched too thin. I felt tired, over committed and ineffective.

I knew I would need to regain control to balance the colors within my portrait. Sometimes when we put in so much time and effort but do not see the desired results, it is hard not to see this as a personal failure. That is how I felt by the end of sophomore year. I decided to scrap the old canvas and begin anew. Junior year, I became the artist once more, and I chose the palette of my interests. I left the science institute, changed travel soccer teams, and chose volunteer work that I really enjoyed. With a less crowded landscape, there was so much more focus and time for “the me” to emerge.

Newfound interests and talents became a part of my life that I never had time for before. I was able to keep the original colors on my canvas: school, soccer and everything that made me, me before. However I was able to add new ones such as art, photography and become a more out outgoing individual. I was passionate about everything I was doing and much more effective in each aspect I took part in. Stepping back and looking at the big picture taught me to make decisions that were best for me, and not for those around me. I am able to create a picture that, to me, is a masterpiece even if others see it as painted colors.

The emergence of “the me” is a life long work in progress as we are always adding color, dimension, and interests as we grow. Sometimes by choosing the colors of our picture more carefully, more depth can be added to the picture that clarifies “the me”. Whether you choose to create your canvas as a cityscape, a peaceful park, or a leaf blowing in the wind, be sure to be the artist that defines the colors of your “ME”.


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How to cite this essay (MLA)

Brennan, Nina. "Defining Yourself" StudyNotes.org. Study Notes, LLC., 18 Nov. 2014. Web. 24 Sep. 2017. <https://www.apstudynotes.org/common-app/defining-yourself/>.
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