“They look alike, they walk alike, at times they even talk alike.” That’s the theme from the old Patty Duke Show and was, I thought, the theme for the people of Lafayette, California. I moved from Oakland to Lafayette when I was in the seventh grade, and I found that I was doing more than moving over the hill. I was moving from a city brimming with diversity to a place where everyone seemed ominously similar. At age twelve I was facing the challenge of how and whether to fit in.
Every day was a struggle for me. Being new at a school was trying enough, but attempting to be an individual at a new school was virtually inconceivable. I tried to be bizarre to gain attention and win friends, but I ended up the subject of everyone’s extended index finger and of countless whispers and laughs. A few people sympathized with me and did their best to help me. To them I was and still am grateful. Others, however, did their best to ridicule me. These people had a lasting effect on my life that, eventually, would aid me.
In high school I discovered an important outlet that would reshape my attitude and my mind—drama. I enrolled in Drama 1 the first year I was eligible to do so, and I became president of the Drama Club. I somehow got the lead in the school play, Thornton Wilder’s Our Town. I also appeared in a small theater company’s production of Guys and Dolls. Performing brought me great pleasure and enhanced my growing confidence. The next year I landed the lead in the school play again and participated in two plays at a community theater. I entered the improvisation competition at the college and won, shocking myself. I had gained an identity. I was an actor.
When I step on stage, the first minute is agony. My throat is dry. My breathing is unsteady and sweat drips down my back. I am terrified. I love it. To me, it doesn’t matter if a play is great. Just the thrill of getting up on stage as another person is incredible. When I perform in front of a crowd, I want to make the audience care. I want to exhaust them with my passion so that they leave discussing the play. I want to help the players on stage with me to be better actors. I want to be an actor whose characters seem so real that they cause discomfort or insight, joy or sadness.
I found myself using life experience as a major contributor to my drama. The people I hated for their teasing at intermediate school became very valuable. When I need to dislike someone or something in a role, I bring all those people to mind. When I need to feel grateful to someone, I think of the choice few who wanted to help me. Emotions are easy to evoke with the proper stimuli.
Although the move to the land of clones at age twelve seemed like a personal hell at first, perhaps it was for the best. If I had not been surrounded by what I perceived as anonymity, I might not have found out who I really was. Now I have the opportunity to become anyone. Acting has given me a chance to become whomever I please. What more could I want? Mom, Dad, the move seemed like a questionable idea, but thank you for forcing it upon me. It turned out to be the opportunity of my lifetime.
Though it is good to employ your unique voice, this applicant was a bit too conversational. She even uses the word “hell,” a term that may put off some admissions officers. There is a pervasive and unceasing negative tone in this essay, one that prompts the reader to infer that the student still has not overcome the self-esteem issues she alludes to (“I tried to be bizarre to gain attention and win friends, but I ended up the subject of everyone’s extended index finger and of countless whispers and laughs.”). Language such as “I somehow got the lead in the school play…” and “I entered the improvisation competition at the college and won, shocking myself,” allow the reader to infer that, even today, the applicant has not fully overcome her hang-ups.
Though the student has discovered a new identity as an actor, she does not expound upon how she plans to follow this pursuit in the future. The reader is unsure of whether this is a passing interest or a potentially lifelong pursuit. The writer does not show significant insight or relate much positive sentiment, leaving the reader feeling she is most concerned with proving her old detractors wrong.