Embracing Quirks Sample Essay

 

 Free-Falling

 

Mr. Alvardez is known around town for producing responsible drivers. When he became my driver’s ed. teacher, I discovered that he was actually a speed demon. Mr. Alvardez’s choice phrases were, ‘Eric, floor it already’, and, ‘parallel park in the next two minutes or we’re back to highway practice.’

When Jenny, three years my elder, told me that her parents were away the upcoming weekend and that there could be a party at her house with just the two of us, I wondered, for an entire week, what kind of party could involve just two people. My friends and I had planned a Monopoly game that day, so I had to politely decline.

So really, it came as a surprise when my cousin Caroline invited me, of all people, to go skydiving last summer. And that I had accepted her offer on the spot.

The trip started out with an innocuous drive through the San Joaquin valley – green fields scattered among yellow hills. Our final stop was at a dilapidated airstrip in Lodi, CA, a town best known for being the birthplace of A&W root beer. Around us were endless rows of cornfield. In a converted hangar, we watched a VHS tape of a guy with flared pants and lambchop sideburns lecture us on safety. I found a pen and took notes.

When it was time to go up, I asked one of the instructors, Derrick, what skydiving felt like. He growled, ‘You’ll see.” I think he was a little disappointed that Samuel, his colleague, took the liberty of pairing up with Caroline when we were talking. He fixed the harnesses on me super tightly, and I was glad that his frustrations had translated into extra safety.

Our little propeller plane was loud, smelly, and delightfully nimble. It took a relaxed jog on the runway and lifted off at a precariously low speed. Not to be underestimated by its cargo, though, it amazed us with the rate at which it could climb. It was like a Jeep in the sky, engine puttering, burnt oil and wind rushing through the cabin. There was a young couple seated next to me, dressed in funny butterfly costumes, and I asked them where their parachute was. “It’s on us,” they laughed, and pointed to their tiny backpacks. “This is a wingsuit. We stay up longer this way.” I had never seen anything like it, and made a mental note to search up youtube videos if I got home alive.

When the plane reached 12,500 feet, the jump came. We started as 20 in the plane. The confirmation of altitude was given, and people started filing out immediately. 20 turned to six in less than a minute. For the first time in my life, there was no chance to analyze, think, or reconsider. There wasn’t even enough time to for me to develop a sense of shock. I simply remember looking down at the checkerboard of fields below us and Derrick patting me on my shoulder, a surprise offering of kindness. A second later, we were off.

On March 12, I took a leap of faith.

And for the first time in my life, I flew.

 

Skydivers on Plane

 

Analysis

Many students are interested in writing essays on self-awareness. This is one way you can do it – by gently easing your reader into the situation with you.

To ‘get’ your realization, they have to be able to step into your shoes. To see things the way you see things.

In this particular story, personal strengths are not emphasized. Instead, it’s all about quirks. The narrator is overly-cautious and careful – the opposite of a go-getter.

However that may seem on the surface, the stories are laced with humor and jest. It feels like a friend confessing their quirky habits to you. You get it. You can appreciate them, understand how it was unusual (and meaningful) for them to act a certain way in the given situation, and respect them more than if they were to get defensive and deny their true nature.

Turning the bad into the good isn’t always easy. But if you do it well, it plays to your advantage. You’ll be more convincing than someone who tries to make the good sound even better. Self-awareness essays, by their nature, tend to include faults. By poking some well-intentioned fun at yourself, you will be proving how much it is you’ve grown to understand who you really are.