My College Essay

I was cleaning up old files the other day, and I came across this file name: ‘college essay.’

It was in such an old word format, I had to open it as a text file.

I have no idea what the question was, but I was clearly trying to persuade the folks in admissions that I was worthy of entry to their elite school.

I was trying to impress them and be humble at the same time.

I was trying to demonstrate my worthiness without being “too much.”

I was seventeen when I wrote this. I was a baby when I went to college.

I’ll be honest: It’s hard not to eye roll at my 17-year old self.

When I found the essay, I opened it, curious about what seventeen year old me was like.

Between the lines, beyond the “Pick me, Pick me!” jumping off the page — what shocks me is how similar I am to that seventeen year old.

As they say: the more you change, the more you stay the same.

So much has changed in my life since I crafted these magnificent 500 words, single spaced in 12-point type, carefully edited to fit onto one page with modest margins.

Here’s what hasn’t changed: I’m still looking for the connections. I’m still seeking the meaning in our lives. And I still believe the answers lie within us.

For your reading pleasure:

Vera Lester
College Essay
January 12, 1998

“You’re how old?”

I blushed and grinned in shy confidence. It wasn’t the first time I had been asked that question in that incredulous tone.

“Uh, fourteen?”

My classmates gaped at me, not believing. The fellow I had a crush on asked, “Do you realize I’m ten years older than you?”

I nodded.

I smiled.

While I did revel in the attention, I was also a bit embarrassed. I was taking this university class — the stellar equivalent of “rocks for jocks” to explore astronomy.

I loved the late evening viewings when we saw Jupiter and four of her moons, and even woke at 2 a.m. to see Saturn with her rings virtually straight-on. Later I would discover that the very basics I learned in that class would tie into my AP Physics class, expanding my interest to astrophysics.

What originally interested me in taking the class was neither the math nor the science, but the underlying cosmology.

No matter how minuscule a role we play in the scheme of things, we still have a relationship with our galaxy and our universe. By learning that this large star we saw in the fall sky was actually Jupiter, and that our ‘north star’ is actually two stars so close together we can’t tell them apart — I realized that things aren’t always what they seem to be.

Standing on the small observatory roof with that strange musty smell, my neck sore from craning it, I realized that the connections we make explain the root of our existence.

We make connections within ourselves, between each other, and with our environs, our households, classes, world, and universe. Without these connections, we simply couldn’t exist. So, by better understanding those inter-relationships, I feel that I can better understand myself and others.

My interests in Astronomy, Mathematics, Psychology, and Theater all share the same basic essence — they explore relationships and interactions.

Only by acknowledging that these diverse interests are interrelated could I explore their significance to each other and to my growth as an individual.

While language can only connect people within a similar culture, mathematics spans cultural bounds. People of different cultures who use different languages and traditions can relate with the exact same numbers. Mathematics has verbs, nouns, and punctuation in the forms of operations, arguments and functions that are more universal than any language.

Psychology delves into the psyche of each human mind and the relationships of one psyche to another.

Theater transforms me, as an actress, into a ”be-er”: a person who doesn’t simply mimic the psyche that psychology identifies, but recreates himself as the embodiment of that psyche. Theater grants the privilege to peek into another person’s thought and emotional processes; I can escape my own perspective by completely creating new people within myself. The epiphany while achieving this creation is indescribable.

It is through communication and interaction that we unite to form a society. I feel that if I could catch a glimpse of the whole being of one person, then I can unlock part of the mysteries that intrigue us all. The answers lie within us.

Between the adolescent insecurity and the “humble brag” quality — what I find is that 17 year-old Vera… well, she’s a lot like me.

Which is probably good, since she WAS me.

We spend so much time trying to heal and get better and improve, that we often run away from the things that are the most US.

I’m done doing that. I’ll be writing a lot more about connection, building connection, and what it means to live a life with less insecurity about who you really are.

What was your college essay about? Do you remember?

Maybe you skipped the college-industrial pipeline and didn’t write one.

What does 17 year-old you have to say?

How far away is it from you, today?

If you feel called, send me a message. I’d love to hear more.