Hardship Sample Essay


Pulling Weight


Weekday nights were difficult times before my younger brother was born. At least once a week, my father would not come home. I would plant myself into the brown sofa by the front window and watch for approaching cars, waiting eagerly for that one left-turn blinker among the mass of lights. It would let me know that today was just a false alarm.

Sometimes, dad went missing for a few days. On other nights, I would hear a rustling of the front door padlock after everyone had fallen asleep. If I slept lightly enough, if I could get to the door before he made too much noise and let him in without waking my mother.

On some nights, she would get to the door first, and then they would fight. Mom would forbid me from getting the key. My father would end up sleeping in the car, and then quietly leave for work the next morning.

Sometimes, my mother couldn’t stand with the wait. With dinner sitting cold, she would take me out to go get my father. We checked the bars first. Dad liked to drink with friends from work, and if we found him, he would make an effort to maintain appearances. He would tease her and say, “come now, make that angry face beautiful again”, and I would hope she would forgive him.

Other times, we would drive to the Indian casino at the edge of town. He would be furious if we found him there, and would blame my mother for stopping him just as he was “breaking-even”. I always wondered if other kids came in to get their fathers, or if I was the only they asked to check the security cameras. I felt like I was tagging a criminal.

With our unpredictable expenses, we sometimes fell behind on rent, and with a new baby brother coming soon, it came time to help the family. I got a job at Rick’s, where I loaded the detergents and washed the rags for the carwash workers. I told my parents I picked up a job at the library.

Later on, when I became close with Tiffany, a wonderful person, she would often be frustrated with me. She said I was closed. Why couldn’t I share more with her, to be open with my feelings? It wasn’ fair for the relationship to be so one-sided. I could not give her the simple answer – that I was embarrassed. That my stories weren’t like hers. Some things were just easier being left alone. It gave me the space I needed to be a regular teenager.

At the end of the day, though, I understand what Tiffany meant. Despite all our setbacks, my mother, father, and I are all trying to make things work. There is no villian or hero to our story. We do care about each other. And more and more, I’m starting to realize how I cannot grow as an individual if I simply keep my inner feelings locked away. There is a place and time for them to be expressed. So today, I want to try and take a step along the path of replacing shame with self-acceptance. With that, I share this story with you.


Holding Hands




A personal statement about a serious experience is fine balancing act. Play the role of an autobiographer – and describe the events in your life as objectively as possible. An impartial style like the one in this essay allows your reader to come to his or her own conclusions. This is a good thing – because an experienced reader likes to be persuaded, not lectured.

This particular essay involves a great deal of background-building. It’s done in an informative manner to avoid pity-mongering. That way, you can get the reader’s respect for you to grow. Pity doesn’t get you into top schools; showing perseverance in the face of obstacles does. Along the same lines, make sure that you to give the impression of emotional stability. Your credibility hinges upon how much control you have over your thoughts and emotions. Show your reader that you have no bone left to pick, no unsettling habits, and no grudges.

In this particular example, the narrator transitions from a passive and seemingly helpless observer into a responsible individual that rises to meet his family’s needs. His internal struggles mirror this trend.

The ending is realistic, with no golden promises or prophetic realizations. It’s simply the start of a new stage of life and a new perspective. The sense of progress it creates is uplifting. An empowered narrator is an empowered reader.