1. Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
For fifteen years, striving for perfection was my life. No matter if it was in school, or sports, or my appearance, being perfect was all I ever wanted. Anything below perfection didn’t suffice; and now I know how obsessively crazy I was. I sporadically question what sparked the need for sublimity; was it to please my parents, or to stand out, or to surpass my older brothers? No. Perfection was to please myself. I convinced myself that the only time I could fully accept who I was, was when I could hit that tennis ball without making any faults; excel in all my classes; have a thigh gap, flat abs, and a bum like Jennifer Lopez; and look at my reflection and say: ‘I am happy.’ Of course, that never happened. Perfection is a stage untouchable, and striving for it only lead to misery and a messed up mind fixated on whether or not my legs were shaved smoothly enough. I genuinely thought I was making progress, but progress brings with it the amelioration of the human condition, and I wasn’t exactly getting better. I had to come to terms with myself and admit that I was suffering from a psychological illness called perfectionism.
For the first six years of my life, I was a happy child surrounded by sand, sea, camels, hatching turtles and Islamic culture in Oman. From what I still remember, these were the fun times. Then we moved to my dad’s country, the Netherlands, where we stayed for nine years. Here is where I went a little cuckoo. Although I like to blame the majority of this on puberty, due to rejections, bullying because of appearance, and ostentation by the people around me, I developed a cynical look on life and on love.
I needed an outlet for my feelings and that was to indulge myself in sports, primarily tennis. I fell madly in love with the sport, and gave up all my other activities so I could play more. My tennis coach saw more value in mental training than physical training and taught me the importance of self-control, determination, and self-appreciation.The latter didn’t sink in that easily, obviously. My dad got offered a new job in Sakhalin, a place with no international high schools, so I was sent to an international school in Japan. By moving to Japan, I was tested on the strength of my mind and of my heart. I was alone, and I wondered how long it would take for me to lose control and thus lose my sanity. A month flew by and I was still walking on the path with regret and melancholy as its final destination. But then I met someone who blocked my path, turned me around, and guided me in the right direction. He made me feel special, and someone who can make a person feel as special as he made me feel, is special himself. I fell in love with him and it was then I realized that the best moments anyone can have are when someone comes into your life and slaps you out of your misery; the cynical girl who once believed that love was complete nonsense became the girl who fell in love at the age of fifteen. He changed my perspective by showing me that I shouldn’t strive for something so unreachable as perfection, but rather for a life I’m content with. And if he should ever leave, there’s no need to worry, because perspective and memories always stay. Progress brings with it the amelioration of the human condition, and despite still aiming for the highest grades and rock-hard abs even the Hulk can’t live up to, at least now I can say that I’m slowly, but surely, progressing to a happier and more “perfect” state of mind.
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