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I haven’t actually gone into much detail about my college apps process in specific in some time, partially because the most accurate depiction of my position within said trajectory over the past few months probably would have consisted of wildly waving hands and shrill, unsettling noises, and partially because I’ve found it more worthwhile to focus on more abstract elucidations. So, without further ado, some diaristic updates before we get into the meat of this month’s unsolicited quasi-philosophical endeavor:
First, I’ve applied to three schools! Bless EA. None of them are near the very top of my list, but it’s nice to have some apps under my belt, especially so my Mentorship teacher will stop making me feel guilty each time she harangues us for not having our college applications literally already finished. Also, it was an important emotional experience to do the “scrolling through the PDF of your CommonApp—AKA the entirety of the past three years, academically speaking, unceremoniously synthesized into one spartan, sans-serif document—while growing increasingly agitated” thing.
…But I still have ten more schools to apply to. Bless RD. Though their deadlines run the gamut from 12/31 to 1/15 (mostly those dates, plus New Year’s, with one or two January 2nds thrown in for what I can only assume are quirky purposes), I’ve imposed an RD deadline for myself of December 20th at 6 p.m. (with the exception of one school, which I’ll be submitting—ostensibly—on the 14th due to the specific vagaries and iniquities of their own admissions process, if you catch my drift). We’ll see how successful I am in that. It’d be great to have all of my apps submitted on the 20th, since that’s the first day of my winter break, and after that I can devote all my time and energy to studying for semester exams. Cue laugh track.
My CommonApp essay. I recently had one of those Serendipitious Moments of Inspiration that led me to completely revamp my CommonApp essay, but it wasn’t nearly as Chicken Soup for the Soul as that sounds, for better or for worse. It began in English class, when a tiringly high-octane substitute led us through the explication of a poem that inadvertently led me to consider some of the facets of my own childhood. At lunch, I took out some notecards (more on the notecards later) and started writing some reflections, and by 10 p.m. I had a draft. A hugely unwieldy draft (one of my friends: “good luck cutting that down hahaha”), but a draft nonetheless. It was probably one of the more honest things I’ve written, though, and I believe it’s more truly indicative of my personal historical materialist dialectic than any prior draft. Long-time readers will remember my reflections on the (inadvertently) personally reflective possibilities of the college admissions process (“Is the Common App Human?”, 8/12), and I’ve honestly come to question whether I was totally in the wrong (with regards to myself, at least) regarding that theory, but writing this essay helped me process so many things about how I came to be who I am that I can’t help but feel at least a little in debt to this whole bourgeois, morally bankrupt process. “He loved the Common App.” (Read that in an end-of-1984 voice.)
So that’s where I am right now in regards to college apps minutiae. All that’s been going on recently has made me think about, well, all manner of things, but specifically about the way we frame our lives. Most glibly put, how do we measure happiness? Or fulfillment? Do we prioritize current edification over the prospect (no pun intended) of future edification? I would theorize that we do the opposite, and in fact that we frame it as a moral imperative. “You need to focus on your future!” But, I mean, not to sound too much like those people who are like “We just go to school to go to college and get a job and then die” as if this were the most original thought to ever crawl out of whatever fold of the brain engenders conscious Twitter image macros, but there’s something to be said about finding a balance between feeling okay about one’s life now and setting oneself up to have everything one needs in the future. Easier said than done, of course. Of course. But I’d just like to problematize the idea of “You need to focus on your future!” One always needs to be focusing on one’s future. But I am wont to believe that that doesn’t—or shouldn’t—prevent an equal focus on one’s present.
I recently read selections from Lucy Lippard’s The Lure of the Local, from which I divined this thesis statement: “We talk about place as though our being in one precludes our being anywere else.” I’d say this is true about the way we think about time as well. Not only being in time (though I’ve recently read a very compelling argument regarding the problematization of that particular concept) but being responsible for time. By which I mean that, to again be entry-level and easily dismissed, one shouldn’t set up one’s consideration of one’s life trajectory so that, if things don’t go as hoped for, one will look back on everything one has done with the past several years of one’s life and say “Well, that was all for nothing.” I fiercely believe that this should never be said, not only because, you know, you learn or otherwise gain from every experience you have and all that jazz, but because one should construct ontologies that span every temporal aspect of one’s life. We are affected by our past, surrounded by our present, and accountable for our future, and that sounds terribly, disgustingly aphoristic, but it’s true. I think it’s kind of like a three-way dialectic, which is oxymoronic, I know, but in terms of a module for balancing the concerns of one’s life, I feel as though it works.
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