Monday, January 29, 2007

Personal Statements

My roommate and I are on the cusp. She, an MBA admission, me an MFA admission. One little letter makes all the difference between suits and martinis, flip-flops and espresso. These are where our lives may diverge as we usher ourselves into the realm of adulthood. We’re picking our careers; we’re doing it, finally. We think we’re making the right choice, and if not, we’ll make it right. Or maybe that’s just me. I can only ever speak for myself.

I’ll go out on a limb and say what we do have as a commonality in the entire application process is our forced demeanor. It’s when the dreaded interview crops up, that personal statement.

Everywhere wants a personal statement. The applications are an overbearing date; a needy girlfriend. Tell us what you like. Tell us what you’re like. Tell us what’s good, what’s bad, tell us a secret. Tell us what we want to hear about what we want to hear about you, but really, just tell us about us and why you can’t wait to be with us. Tell us the truth; tell us a lie, as long as it’s complimentary. Tell us you want us above and beyond all others, you want us, we’re the best, we’ve always been. Tell us where you've come from and why you love who has come before you, but you’ll do it better than they ever did. Tell us how you lay awake at night, eyes unblinking, balled fists, staring at the ceiling, wishing and dreaming and hoping that one day you’ll get to touch us, get to associate with us…

I want to tell them, I will be working on my personal statement all my life, and the moment I understand what it is, surely that will be the moment I cease to breathe, because if there is to be any point to my little life at all, it is to find the words that encompass everything important to me.

I stare at a blank page and vague instructions. I move forward by a hodgepodge of strewn phrases, I capitalize something that should not be and I wonder if leaving it in will make me any different in the eyes of a faraway selections committee. Who are you, they ask, and I want to say, Precisely. You’ve hit the nail on the head. They want the mantra I live my life by and I want to jab them in the arm playfully and say, Live fast, die young, leave a good-looking corpse? Eh? Eh? No one?

We joke on the couch the three adjectives to describe ourselves: nervous, anxious….and….uncomfortable doing this exercise?

They want the truth so they say, but the truth is I don’t know who I am yet. I’d like to say I will by the time I graduate, but I’ve graduated twice before and it hasn’t happened yet, so if I was a betting girl I might say, Stay clear, the odds are against us on that one…

Is there no extra credit for honesty to the point of stupidity? I think, Not here. I can’t tell them what makes sense, what they want from me. I wonder if I can just point to this blog*, show them a picture I painted when I was ten, whip out the only shadow puppet I can (a distorted gorilla), a mediocre cartwheel, a pretty good tomato sauce, a passable bed-making job (no hospital corners), a perfect cursive z, a life not fully formed and tell them even though they don’t understand that I’m glad for it, because if I knew anything about anything now, there would be no point in tomorrow and the day after.

Two more personal statements and then the waiting game resumes, the one where I sit un-patiently and try to control my universe from a shared apartment and a gray desk to call all my own …

*Admissions, if you’re reading this, please don’t read the parts where I’m hungover, my heart is broken, I’m angry, I complain or I’m lonely, unless of course, that somehow makes me more artistic in your eyes, and if so then I’m drinking from a flask of absinthe right now to abate yesterday’s gin, my beloved dog ran away, I’m so mad about it I could spit, but there’s nothing I will do but bitch and that very act makes me feel more alone than I’ve ever felt in my life…Eh? Eh? No one?


c-47 said...

I haven't even the slightest shred of doubt whether or not you'll get in. If i could buy stock (and had disposable income) you'd be a lock.

(wood knocked just in case jinx fairies read this)

My Heart Runneth Over said...

brilliant post... love the way ou write! ~M im 35 and im still looking for myself! good luck!