So, apparently I didn’t mess up on my taxes TOO badly. I got one hell of a refund, and I’m going to be using it. I have my college applications filled out, and now I can send them in. The big one in my little paper arsenal is the one to Buffalo State, and I’ve also got one for D’Youville. Buffalo State won’t be a problem. D’Youville, being a private college, is giving me an addendum: I have to write one of those application essays.
You would think this wouldn’t be much of a problem. I’m a writer and hell, this isn’t even my first experience with college essays – ECC had me write up two of the damn things. Nick at 19 was a much different person than Nick at 31, though. Nick at 19 thought he knew everything and had no problem sitting still for two hours vomiting his idiot thoughts by pen, with the absolute certainty that he was providing the argumentative deathblow for everything he believed. Nick at 31 knows he’s a dumbass. If there’s a super-secret Adult Superbook that’s given out at the age of 30 which contains all the secrets of life, he didn’t receive his copy, and so he knows he’s doomed for eternity to keep making everything up as he goes. I’m being dumb enough even trying to get into my choice major. Lord knows, my choice – dietetics – is something I have a huge interest in. It’s invading many aspects of my life, and in doing so, its taken on a kind of pragmatism I wasn’t expecting ten years ago, or even five years ago, when I started thinking seriously about returning to school. With my interest in the working of my innards at an all-time high, I’d be dumb to NOT turn it into a career! Anyway, D’Youville is basically asking me about my life experiences and how they factored into my decision.
The long-perpetuated myth with things like application essays and job interviews is that there are no wrong answers. The day this country quits teaching those ideas and starts telling the truth, it will suddenly become a lot stronger. Essays and interviews aren’t like auditions for actors or musicians. They’re carefully treading through a semantic minefield while not trying to come off as flat and rehearsed. It’s real between-lines reading, and screwing up in the slightest way causes you to lose the entire thing. You better go in knowing full well there are right and wrong answers. Of course, I don’t even have to say that – it’s what’s known as a public secret.
While it’s true that I’m masterful with words, that’s not because I have an ability to make a journey to the local 7-11 sound epic and meaningful. So upon writing an essay like this, I doubt I would be able to fill it with saccharine sappiness veiled in layered metaphor. My life’s journey so far hasn’t been filled with mystery and wonder. I was a churlish, snarling social outcast until my early 20’s, and for those who have never been outcasts, I can tell you that being one makes it very difficult to have profound, life-changing experiences. What I excel in is pissed-off firebranding, and the few online readers I have who actually follow my work all seem to believe the appeal of my style is street-level bluntness. My half-serious joke is that most writers will tell other people that what they do heals the human soul. I prefer to bludgeon it to death. Yeah, it’s harsh, but writing is my way of both venting and making sense of a world which didn’t let me discover it until my teenage years had ended.
And so the big question has arisen: How the hell do I appeal to D’Youville? Do I pile on all the years I spent being a starving artist in Chicago and try to make them sound profound and soul-cleansing? Tell them the absolute, unfiltered truth, which is that I’m just a wannabe writer who get fed up with not being able to make rent? Do I mention that my motivations come in thirds – a third education, another third a chance to go abroad for a few months, and the final third to transfer the hell out of Buffalo? (Call it growing, people.) My counselor gave me her reassurance of my abilities as a writer. A few years ago, when I first applied for the University of Wisconsin (and couldn’t because I didn’t have any money), my good friend Katy – an alumnus who had also worked there in some capacity – said she was curious about what I came up with for an application essay because I have more life experience. Right now, it seems like the best thing I can hope for my D’Youville essay is to not disappoint her.
I just wrote my damned autobiography! Somehow, though, I don’t think my life story as told through a video game prism will get me very far at D’Youville.