Superpower Preferences and College Essays

If you were to ask me what superpower I’d want, I’d initially want time control, but after some reconsideration, I’d settle for something mundane like flying or superspeed. In the words of Ben Parker, “great power comes with great responsibility”. With the ability to time travel or stop time, we’d be able to fix any mistake we have ever made, but once we undo one, where do we stop?

Given the choice, a number of us would gladly take the SAT a few million times for a 1600, chasing some illusion of perfection. We spend much of high school pursuing this ideal, only to find that there is no such thing, just like there’s no flawless college essay.

We all know that in the back of our minds, but it’s hard to keep it in perspective. On a laptop, we can crl+z every erroneous pixel until we have a beautifully blank word doc. And then what? We have nothing. Frankly, that has been the case for all of my college essays so far. I write and write and backspace and backspace and backspace. The whole time I’m thinking, there can’t be any mistakes. Well, that in itself is a mistake.

Our lives are all full of mistakes, one after the other, a relentless torrent of regrets, but we must choose to learn from them and live with them. Personally, I’ve bought countless books that I picked up once just for them to collect dust on my shelf because they were disappointing. They weren’t worth the $14, maybe $4, but that in itself is something. It still had some value since after all, something about it piqued my interest, even if momentarily. Yes, if I never bought those books, I’d have a substantially weightier wallet, but for what purpose if not to spend money? The point is, I lived and learned.

Now, at the end of my years in high school, I realize that not all of my time was well spent and I still regret some instances. However, if there were no bad moments, how can we appreciate the good ones and grow from them?

Now, at the end of my years in high school, I have an essay I have to write for hundreds of admission officers that will peruse it in great detail. Right now, I have a work in progress, as I like to call it. It’s me at my best and me at my worst. It’s just me trying to figure out who I am: far from perfect, and that’s completely fine. It’s a learning experience.

And now, back to you. I really just wanted to tell you that your life is full of mistakes, and so are your essays. But if you keep deleting every flaw, you won’t have anything to write about. So write for goodness’ sake.

I’m not some success story that knows exactly how to write an essay to get into Harvard; that might not be your story either, but it’s uniquely your own. Stop pretending that it’s something it’s not. In your story, you will stumble and fall, but you’ll live and keep pressing forward. Embrace your flaws in all of their unholy glory. After all, every good story has its dark moments, but it’s the light that comes afterwards that really shines.


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