Some of you know that right around this time of year, I take a bit of time to help some of the students in my personal life revise their personal statements as they apply to colleges/graduate schools. In the midst of preparing another “Walk down Memory Lane” post for The King 2 Hearts, though, it dawned on me that some of the new Twinkles here in the Musings community may find the following post–a “Musing for Today” post–helpful, especially if you missed it when it first published back in November 12, 2013.
If nothing else, it’ll be a nice reminder of just how perspectives may change based on who is doing the beholding. 🙂 I hope some of you find this journey back in time to one of my past “Musings for Today” helpful as you reflect on how to present yourself to the admissions committee! 🙂
November 12, 2013 post republished verbatim. You can read the original here.
As some of you may know, I’ve been busy these days helping a few high school seniors write their personal statements for their college admissions applications. This uncertain time period is not fun for anyone involved–students and parents alike–but for some students, the daunting task of writing an insightful essay or two introducing themselves on paper to a faceless and critical admissions committee–and a college/university one at that–can be more than daunting.
It can be downright discouraging and ego-deflating.
Most students aren’t used to writing about themselves. But then again, who is? When they are asked to write about themselves, they think that writing about their strengths is bragging and that they should be “humble.” Unfortunately, this distorted thinking gets them into trouble. They don’t realize that writing about themselves and their strengths–if done properly–can be reflective of self-confidence, not bragging.
So instead of self-confidence, the sentiment that I keep hearing these days from many of these students is one of self-deprecation: I’m not as smart as my classmates. My life is so ordinary. I haven’t done anything special or noteworthy. I’m never going to get accepted. I’ll be lucky if even one school accepts me….
In the past few days, I’ve had to tell these high school seniors on several separate occasions that in their eyes, they may think that they’re weak candidates because all they see are the “great” things that are often highlighted by our school, peers, etc. However, they aren’t looking at themselves in quite the same way that I or the admissions committee may see them. Let me give you an example:
One of my church students was lamenting the fact that he didn’t have very many extracurricular activities, especially in the community service/volunteering area. His comment surprised me. Why? Because he and his little hearty group of teenagers volunteer so many hours each week to help around our church. Every summer, he and his buddies commit an entire week to helping out with the children department’s summer program and another week traveling down to Mexico on medical missions, paying for their own expenses with their own hard-earned money. And in the past year, he and three other teenagers took the initiative to start learning instruments so that they can form a praise band for our youth worship services on Sundays. Oh, and did I mention that they collect cans, bottles, and other recyclable items so that the proceeds from the recycling can go to support an orphan in Cambodia? It never occurred to him to write that he had helped co-found a musical band for church service or that he had created a recycling program in support of an orphanage overseas. He just figured that these were just things that he did; certainly, they weren’t “great” things like volunteering in world-class disasters with an internationally recognized non-profit organization like the Red Cross or Doctors without Borders.
My students do some very awesome things, but they don’t think so. All they see and hear are the accolades of the “super” students who win state championships, obtain the #1 academic rank in their schools, score a perfect college admissions exam score on the SAT or ACT, etc. It doesn’t dawn on them that if they look closely enough–and objectively enough–they’ve done some pretty cool things themselves.
Perspective is an important thing, one that can drastically alter the way people view certain things and other people. We certainly experience this day in and day out in our love affair with Korean dramas. Take for instance our recent series Answer Me 1994. When we first met the Shin Chon Boardinghouse Gang, we didn’t think much of them except for the fact that they had some vicious potty mouths, questionable hygiene habits, and hilarious idiosyncrasies.
And then we started to learn that they’re all students at Korea’s second-ranked prestigious university, Yonsei University, and that they’re actually quite a force to be reckoned with…outside of their home environment in the real world. But in the first episode or two, all we saw were just “ordinary” people.
Our lives are often like this. We hear and see so many praiseworthy things about people that we forget those are just brief moments in those people’s lives, too. They, like each and every one of us, have their ups and downs, their lows and highs. Yes, it’s often difficult to remember that in someone else’s eyes, each of us is pretty “special,” too. But we are!
That’s been my message these days, especially this past weekend, to these high school seniors. They may think they’re ordinary and boring, but they’re not. And their job right now is to decide what aspect of their personalities and their lives they want to highlight and show the admissions committee. They need not beg and try to cater to the admissions committee. Instead, they should focus on their strengths and show the committee just how great of an asset they will be to the college.
Perspective is an important thing. How we view things can drastically alter our perception of ourselves, those around us, opportunities that come our way, etc. My hope is that each and every one of us–myself included–will constantly remember that we may consider ourselves “ordinary,” but we have some extraordinary moments and qualities about us that we don’t realize or remember all the time. And sadly enough, even though the people around us see these great qualities, those qualities and praises are not often vocalized and validated.
I hope that on this Tuesday, if you’ve been having a horrible day or just a so-so day, this musing encourages you and reminds you that You. Are. Pretty. Darn. Special. In. Your. Own. Right.
Now, make sure you see yourself that way because those who love and cherish you certainly see you this way! A quick pep talk in front of the mirror often does the trick. 😉 Have a blessed day, Twinkles!