Monday, November 23, 2009

My Year of Hopefulness - Personal Statements

Today I began writing my personal statement for my PhD application to Columbia. I have been thinking about it for a week. Usually writing comes very easy to me. It's something I love and a skill I work on every day. The words usually come faster than I can type them. Several times I have sat down to write this personal statement and starred at a blank page for a long time, closing my laptop with nothing to show for my time.

What is it that's getting to me? Why is it that putting fingers to keys to write this personal statement is so tough? I can talk about why I want to get my PhD; I know my dissertation topic and I know what I want to do post-PhD. So why is this personal statement giving me writer's block?

In one to two pages I have to explain who I am and what I'm most passionate about to people who barely know me. Every word counts. Because of the critical importance of this piece I was editing before I even started writing. I let my quest for perfection get in the way of telling the truth, plain and simple.

While I need perfection before I click the 'submit' button, I was forgetting that the first draft, along with the second, third, and thirtieth can be far less than perfect. A final piece that shines from beginning to end is composed of bits and pieces of glimmer from the many drafts that come before it.

Life's the same way. Love's the same way. Careers are the same way. We usually don't get things perfectly correct the first time around. It takes a lot of trial, and error, and trial again. It takes the courage to fail, to follow a dream as far as it will take us. And many times our dreams dead end and we have to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and start all over again. Life, love, and careers take many drafts, and in each new experience we gain a little piece of magic, a little piece of awareness that will get us a bit closer to our own version of perfect. The trick is to never call it quits until we get exactly what we want.


runner52 said...

If life was easy it wouldn't be worth living

Christa said...

Agreed, runner52! I'm actually looking forward to the short-term sacrifices in order to live my dream!