Hi! It’s been a while since I’ve posted, but I just wanted to share a college admission style essay that I wrote for my AP Lang class, please enjoy:
The whole gym was filled with smelly, squealing children just like any other ordinary day in elementary school. Some kids were tactfully doing every type of gymnastic move known to man—somersaults, cartwheels, roundoffs, you name it—down the spongey cheese-shaped mats one after another. The more daring students were climbing up a gigantic spider web of bright yellow ropes that reached almost all the way up to the ceiling. Once they’ve made it to the tippy top, they would let everyone know of their accomplishment by slapping a metal panel on the wall, which created a loud, gong-like noise that reverberated throughout the entire gym.
Every time I heard that echoing bang of metal, I felt my heart sink. All the other kids were like gods while I was a mere mortal, shivering in fear of their ultimate power. On the side of the gymnasium there was me, straining every bit of strength in my body and still being unable to do the simplest task.
I couldn’t touch my toes.
The burning sensation in my legs wouldn’t let me stretch any further. I felt like my whole body was a skyscraper; my feet were dozens of stories below my fingers, and I could never reach them no matter what I did. Sweat broke out on my forehead as I realized that everyone was past the warming-up stage and moving to the next gymnastic activity. At that moment, an overwhelming sense of insecurity washed over me and the atmosphere grew hotter. I had always wanted to be nearly perfect at what I do, but at that time, it was hard to bear the feeling of being utterly inferior. In the end, I was so frustrated that I left the gym and sat in the bathroom until the P.E. class ended.
This toe-touching experience was definitely not the first or last time I’ve struggled in my life. Although I always had high standards for myself to succeed and do things flawlessly, there had been numerous times where I couldn’t achieve everything I wanted. As a child, it was difficult learning English in school because I was used to speaking Vietnamese at home. It was hard for me to concentrate on or understand what other children were talking about, so as a result, I had trouble communicating with my peers, making me shy and unsocial for the majority of elementary school. Most of the time, I despised going to school altogether. And to top it all off, I couldn’t touch my toes.
Through all of these failures I’ve learned one of the most important lessons that I still apply to my life: the balance between attempting to be perfect and accepting your own strengths and weaknesses. For example, my perfectionist tendencies benefit me today, as they help me excel in the areas I already have experience in. Many times, I’ve played piano for hours straight so I can perform impeccably at concerts and fundraising events. Other times, I have meticulously thought out and created intriguing projects to present at science fairs, which capture the eyes of judging panels. And other times, I have made sure to not leave any small details out of my artwork so it can be the best product possible for my friends and family. My perfectionism comes in handy as motivation to help me execute my strengths, but I won’t ever let it take over me and ruin my self-worth.
Now, I have accepted that some things in life won’t come to me as easily as others. In order to move forward, I learned to be adaptable and acknowledge the skills that I don’t excel at. For me, worrying too much about being flawless held me back from actually improving myself. After figuring out what areas I required help in, I went into action to improve on them. Through taking my pace and asking many questions along the way, I’ve learned to love English and writing. Over time, I have also made many new friends, and I’m not afraid to meet or talk to new people when needed. Instead of school being something I dreaded, I now look forward to it every day, and I am grateful for the opportunity it gives me to socialize with others and to experience new things outside of my comfort zone.
I’m still a perfectionist at heart. I like to focus on my skills and utilize them to the best of my ability, but at the same time, I have the willpower to get better in other aspects—and I’m not afraid to admit that I have faults and need extra help sometimes. It takes a lot of strength to accept one’s own weaknesses, but once that part is over, the road to improvement will be much easier. Now, not only has my skill set grown, but also my life philosophy. I’ve learned to be versatile and confident in myself to rise up from failures. I never want to quit or feel pity for myself, no matter how badly my first attempts at something are.
I’ve changed a lot since that fateful day in gym class. Instead of feeling like a lost cause and limiting myself by reaching down for my feet, I now want to reach up above, to reach for something unfamiliar but within my grasp, to reach beyond the earth and accomplish great things that I never imagined I could do. With this thinking, I know I can achieve anything I put my mind to. If I just reach for the stars, who knows how far I’ll go?