Personal Statement

The personal statement is an important part of your application for admission and scholarships. The University uses the statement to learn more about you as an individual your talents, experiences, achievements and points of view. Think of the personal statement as your opportunity to introduce yourself to the admissions officers and faculty who will be evaluating your application. What would you like us to know about you that may not be evident from a review of the rest of your application?

Very recently I finished writing a one-act play entitled Michelle. I love to write, but writing this play was often painful. That is what made it different.I created three characters, each with their own set of oddities, aberrations, and manias. Eliot, the main character, is a sort of pseudo-intellectual, so caught up in the idea of art for art’s sake that he is able to convince himself that he doesn’t care for women. His college roommate, Mark, enjoys the opposite sex with the passion of a hedonist. The conflict arises when Elliot can no longer hold up his facade. He has fallen for a woman named Michelle, who also, rather surprisingly, is Mark’s girlfriend. The two roommates battle each other in order to prove why each deserves Michelle’s affection.I admit it’s rather simple. There is not any fascinating plot twist. No one dies. No one even curses. That’s because it’s a play of an idea, of the definite conflict between intellectualism and sexuality. As a resolution, I do hint at “balance.” But I think that balance tends to be a common escape from writing a true climax. The play ends without smiles just as the symbolic conflict goes on long after the audience has left the drama lab.I named the character Eliot after T.S. Eliot, the poet who wrote “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.” In that poem, Eliot writes of a man who cannot decide between inaction – the boredom of “coffee spoons” – and proposing marriage. The Eliot in the play is unable to let loose his own personality, as it has been so constricted by endless thought.I modeled Eliot after myself. I get caught up in thought, in the abstract, in words on a page. I don’t breathe enough, as my sister said. It’s not that I can’t enjoy myself. I know how to submerge myself in new and interesting situations, even in different cultures. I’ve spent two unforgettable summers living with one particular French family. I’ve learned to communicate in three languages other than English (French, Hebrew, and Spanish) perhaps partly because I do like to be a part of a group. What I think my sister means by my not “breathing” is that I never let my intellectual guard down. I always know what I am about to say and how I am about to say it. I am quick, because I am rehearsed. Eliot is like this, and through Eliot I was able to express how I feel about this particular form of inaction, and where it comes into conflict with something so concrete as physical attraction. Eliot gave me a way of seeing myself objectively.Because the play was strangely autobiographical, it kept me up at night. I would not be able to write for weeks, and then suddenly I would wake up and sleepwalk over to the computer. I had things to say about myself. Such things never come out conveniently. They strike at the least expected moments. Ideas come, and anyone who wants to be writer has no choice but to dash to the nearest pen (or keyboard) and write away.Ironically, this writing was a powerful way of overcoming my inaction. I did something with it: I wrote it down. I fictionalized it and manipulated it until I had created a cohesive piece of work. I write short stories all the time, but this was different. This was about reflection and imagination, not simply creativity. I could let down my guard on the page, revealing parts of myself using the third person. That is what made the play so wrenching to write, and that is what made it so satisfying.I have copies of the play all over my room, because I need to distribute it to the actors. Michelle was selected to be performed at my school’s One-Act Play Festival. This means that soon I will be watching my own play performed right in front of me. And yet again, the play will force me to look at myself objectively.Most things I have written are satisfying in that they tend to be reasonably intelligent, original, and offbeat, just as Eliot believes in art for art’s sake. Finally I had written something that went beyond aesthetics and into meaning. Holding the completed play in my hands, I felt like I had written something that was true to myself. That is why it means so much.

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