Personal Statement

Describe a character in fiction, a historical figure, or a creative work (as in art, music, science, etc.) that has had an influence on you and explain that influence.

When I look back upon my life, I think of many things. I think of football and how it means the world to me. I think of school and how even though I hate waking up for it, in reality, I don’t know what I would do without it. I think of my friends and family and how they are the heart to my soul. Then I’m asked to think about someone or something, fictional or historical, musical or literary, that has influenced me through my 17 years of existence, and I come up with a blank. I’m unable to pinpoint one person or thing that has influenced me. Could it be Kanye West’s “Stronger”? Or how about Jackie Robinson? Or even Frank Lloyd Wright, since I want to be an architect? No, no, no. Well, what about the young Scipio or Alex Rider from The Thief Lord and The Alex Rider Series, respectively? Nope. Neither one. No, when I think back to who has influenced me the most, surprisingly, I come to Holden Caulfield, the teenager who sees everything in its purest form: “phony.” Sure, when I first read J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, I didn’t really care for it. I thought Holden needed to stop whining about all of the “phonies” in the world and just get back to school and back to his life. Remarkably, though, after reading it I soon started to realize what the world around me was “all about.” I noticed that people that I had previously liked and respected had suddenly become new people — phonies. I couldn’t believe this change in me, this change in my philosophy. Holden opened my eyes to a whole new point of view toward those around me. I realized that people I had thought were popular and had “swag” only acted like that because of the life they live. People aren’t born popular or born with “swag.” They get those labels because of where they live, what clothes they wear, what items they have, what cars they drive, how much money they have.Now, you may be asking, what does this have to do with me? How does looking at people in a new light help me? Well, since I’ve realized all of this, I’ve become a more authentic person. I don’t try to pretend like I’m rich, I don’t try to pretend that I’m popular, I don’t even try to pretend that I’m friends with all of those kids. No, instead, I’m simply me. I don’t have tons of money, I don’t have tons of friends, I don’t have “swag,” and I don’t even have a car. But you want to know what I do have? I have a good work ethic that has earned me a starting varsity football job. I have a close group of friends that I know won’t betray me. I have enough money to have fun when I want to have fun. I’ll take that. I’ll take what I have over what I dream about any day of the week. You know why? It’s because what I dream about would make me into a person that even I wouldn’t like. I would be someone who isn’t true to himself and who focuses and cares about things that, in reality, don’t matter. The answer to the burning question of “who Derek got with” really isn’t something that would change my life.Life is a very confusing thing. You can be born into extreme poverty and come out of it with a good, fulfilling life only through truly hard work and incredible perseverance. You can be born into extreme wealth, however, and never have to work a day in your life. Where is the fulfillment in that, though? What do these people get out of their lives? Absolutely nothing. These “entitled people” think that just because they have all the money and all of the friends, they are “the ones.” Well, I say, answer me this: what are your aspirations? Do you want to get more money? More friends? Maybe a nice new car? What about working to live, working to be able to have fun, working to be able to support a family? Entitled people have no reason to work hard for anything in their lives. There is absolutely nothing in their lives that they cannot get simply by asking for it. Regular people, in contrast, have to work tirelessly every day to maintain our meager standard of living.While I still do like most of those “phonies” on a surface level, I look at them in a new light. I do not know if I still respect them. I no longer dream about what it would be like to live their lives. I am perfectly content with my “normal” life. I am perfectly content knowing that I need to earn my “swag” instead of thinking that I automatically deserve it because I was born into money. I am perfectly content having to earn everything I get. Since I have to earn everything, l will be a stronger person and a harder worker, and I will have a better feeling throughout my life. I will know that I am able to accomplish whatever I want not because of my birth, but because of my character.

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