Seniors, as you begin to write your college essays, go outside and get inspired. Your essay topic should make you feel vulnerable. When you write it, find a place that inspires you. Take in all the beauty around you. Feed your soul.
Then… start writing.
“What should I write about?” is the most common question I am getting these days. My students have been accepted in over 300 colleges (maybe more) including all the top 25 colleges. What have they written about? Do you really want to know? THEY HAVE WRITTEN ABOUT EVERYTHING.
I have read essays about dreams (literally), experiences, incidents, coincidences, likes (a students love for coffee, for example), crazy parents (not literally, yet…), getting lost, being found….
So, stop reading other people’s essays. I find that most of the time this is detrimental to you sanity and essay.
If you are stuck in a rut and can’t seem to find the right topic, go outside. Go to your favorite place. Feel at peace… and like I said at the beginning, THEN… only then, WRITE.
This past week, as I searched for a document, I stumbled upon my 7th thru 11th grade diaries. Yes, you heard me right. I found my old middle school and high school diaries. My mother wrapped them in clear plastic wrap and tossed them in boxes after I left for college. Unbeknownst to me, she stored and gave me back those boxes once I settled back in Puerto Rico after over a decade living in Boston, Madrid, Italy, Chicago, etc. (the list goes on and on).
I stayed up way past my bedtime and read most of the entries that I wrote when I was about your age. While I read, I felt this wave of confusion: how is it that I don’t remember the words I, myself, wrote on these pages? why do I, on the other hand, feel so familiar with what I felt at the time? Although I didn’t remember the exact words I read back to myself, I did remember exactly how I felt.
As the entries went on and I moved into 10th grade, I started talking about college more and more. I even have evidence of my days studying for the SAT! I felt so excited for the young woman whose entries I was reading. She was so driven, so focused and so honest. The words written by that girl were so on point with the advice I give today to my students.
That Nancy many years ago, in many ways was the beginning of the Nancy that I am today. She was beginning to see that success was not only about doing the work but also about staying true to who you are.
The Nancy back then, only 14 years old, already sounded a lot like the Nancy 15+ years later. How can that be? Don’t we have to grow old and learn from mistakes to mature? My answer today is the same I’ve been giving all my life. However, today I can support my answer.
You, teenager, already have a God-given wisdom that allows you to distinguish for wrong or right. You already have a compass that guides you into the path you were born to take. You, however, choose to deviate and go against your gut. We then learn from these mistakes and hopefully, on a second instance, make the right decision.
YOU have everything you need to steer your life in the right direction. Listen to your intuition. Be kind to yourself as well as others. Be careful with what you say and do. Always do your best. Finally, know that you are not just your grades, your SAT score, your body weight, your popularity in school, your job title… who you really are is this awesome being that is on earth to make a difference and spread the love!
“Everyday I try becoming a more complete person because I love life and life loves me. Why let it down?”
I have no doubt that my teenage self had a compass that has guided me all my life. Just as in 1998, I am still deciphering what being a more “complete” person means, I still love life and I know without a doubt in my mind that life LOVES ME!