Look, I don’t think that I’m being particularly controversial when I say I am at a significant disadvantage by not being a victim of enough horrible tragedies. I mean, I’m not going to sit here and claim the victims of crime, natural disasters, death, what have you are lucky. But do these people have a leg up when they are faced with a writing prompt for their college admissions essay? You bet your ass they do.
When I turn on the television and see, say, a kidnapped woman in the pit of a psychopath murderer’s home being asked to put the lotion on it’s skin and screaming in absolute terror, it’s not like I would want to actually switch places with her. Though, admittedly, knowing that she will inevitably survive this hardship and undoubtedly develop a new appreciation for life and deep, meaningful perspective about the accomplishment of cheating death that undoubtedly marked her transition into adulthood definitely makes that switcheroo tempting! It’s not that I want to experience a closeness to death or a tragedy so life changing that one can only imagine the genius that might come from the written explorative reflection requested by the common application for undergraduate studies, I’m only making the point that it would likely write itself if I had.
You’d have to be crazy to actually desire to be kept in a confined shed for seven years, raising a child by my captor while presumed dead by my family, friends, and loved ones. It’s not crazy, however, to say that, if this were a life experience of mine, the opportunity to ponder upon that experience through a 500-word essay about how I overcame such a struggle would be both poignant and moving and, likely, exactly what a College Admissions Officer would be looking for.
The benefits don’t stop there! Meditative-limited word-count essays are practical in almost any possible application if you’ve already been accepted to a university on something like academic merit. Add a call to action and you have an excellent op-ed for the Atlantic. It would be an article a person as unlucky as myself could never write, as I’ve not been fortunate enough to have been, well, off the top of my head, pursued by a maniac with a chainsaw while witnessing the gruesome deaths of my close friends and family by that maniac’s hand.
I wouldn’t say I was jealous of the people who find themselves, time and time again, in situations of certain death, hopelessness, or devastation. I only wish I could have the good fortune to experience a quick tsunami, escaped mental patient, maybe even a mafia run-in or two so I could write the kind of high caliber essay that gets me my ticket into an Ivy League school, where I could join all of the other tragedy-prone students who have become so deep thanks to the horrors they’ve seen. Can you even imagine how interesting they probably are? What I wouldn’t give!
Or I could just get rich and buy my way in, I suppose.