I think the first quarter of my senior year has been defined by a singular, undeniable truth: the college process is the worst. It is soul-sucking, demoralizing and boring. But I can get over having to edit the punctuation on my Common App a million times and trying not to swallow my own tongue during interviews. The immutable numbers representing my GPA and standardized test scores don’t even horrify me that much. What really drives me up the goddamn wall about the college process is having to define myself again and again.
In order to write all the essays that college applications demand, an applicant must have a solid under- standing of who she is. I lack this solid understanding. I consider my identity something akin to a formless blob, void of any defining characteristics. People ask, “Well, do you see yourself at [college name]?” No! I don’t see myself at all! I’m always shocked when people mention thinking or talking about me without me present. “I had a dream about you!” You perceive me? And have specific beliefs about my character and behavior? That’s crazy.
Printing out and reading my completed Common App was a surreal experience. Even though I wrote it, it felt like reading a dossier written by someone who had been spying on me. It contained basically everything I had done it the past three years, but summarized and organized to the point that it felt entirely disconnected from the actual internal experience I had when I was doing these things listed oh-so-neatly in the activities section. I don’t hate the person my Common App makes me out to be, but I do feel entirely divorced from her.
It makes me sad to think that colleges can’t witness the actual applicants, only the way they present themselves in a couple hundred words and a handful of numbers. Or worse, a stiff interview with some millennial who isn’t getting paid enough for this. I look around at my fellow seniors, and I know that they are more kind, sharp, cool, funny and interesting than the people admission reps get to meet. But maybe it’s better that way. These colleges don’t deserve the whole of our identities. Anyway, it’s only four years.
P.S. TO ANY ADMISSION REP WHO SOMEHOW FINDS THIS IN THE BOWELS OF THE ULTRAVIOLET DOT ORG: I love your school more than I love my cats, my friends, and my mom, combined. I would write a thousand supplements for the honor of using your meal plan. Validate me, please.