The readers of this blog are now being transported from the steppes of Mongolia and the timeless wisdom of Genghis Khan (the last post) to a mountain resort in California and the 21st century. Thank you to Tanis Kmetyk for her posts in my absence.
I just returned from a brief, wonderful vacation to Mammoth Lakes, a resort in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California. On our first night, I stepped outside our condo, which neighbored a lovely meadow. I looked up to see a sky filled with stars, something I never see in Los Angeles.
It struck me that the stars differ. Some flicker. Others provide a steady beam of light. They have varied shapes, levels of intensity and degrees of brightness. A few reflect slightly different shades of color. They have their unique location in the constellations. In fact stars, unlike grains of sand, have individuality and personality because of these points of difference. Many have distinct identities, despite their superficial sameness.
Their uniqueness stems from details. In details and specifics you find points of difference and individuality. The same is true of you when writing about yourselves in your essays. If you write about the factors that you share with many other applicants, then you will be like grains of sand on the beach. When you write about yourself in specific terms, you will allow yourself to shine distinctively.
For example, a young relative volunteered this summer as a counselor for children with serious disabilities. Her camper is confined to a wheelchair and requires round-the-clock care. If this relative simply reports that she volunteered at a camp or was a counselor over the summer, she would be like a grain of sand blending into the beach of many college students who work at camps or even volunteer as counselors. However if she were to write about pushing a slender teenager in a wheelchair uphill while carrying a spare, 20-pound ventilator battery, she, like the stars in the sky, would be distinguishing herself.
You don’t have to try to be different. All human beings are different, but you can choose anecdotes and specifics to ensure that your individuality glitters. Write as a star shines. Distinctively. Uniquely.