So yesterday I stumbled over my old college application essay that I wrote a while back. I was reading it, and it just seemed so phony that I couldn't believe I had actually written it. I mean, when I wrote it I felt like it was the perfect essay and that it would stand out from all the rest. In retrospect, I can tell that there is something in there that is real, but it is smothered by all the bombastic rhetoric I used. Anyway, Does anyone else feel this way looking back at their college application essays, or am i the only pretentious one here?
I'll post the essay below so you can see what I mean.
Last year, I took a course entitled Modern Thought and Literature. At the end of the class, we were asked to pick a book pertaining to the ideas we had covered and to write a report on it. It was not until I selected that book that my values and ideas about life changed in a meaningful way. That book, that was picked entirely by chance; that book, that broke my shackles and let me out of the cave of illusory shadows and into the sun of enlightenment; that book, was Thus Spoke Zarathustra, by Fredrick Wilhelm Nietzsche. His explanation of an individuals Will to Power and the various stages one moves through in order to reach their meaningful potential intrigued and inspired me.
Before reading Thus Spoke Zarathustra, I was still in the cave, trying to make sense of shadows that I perceived as reality. I believed that I needed to obtain good grades, in order to be accepted into a competitive college, so that I could acquire a respectable job, which would in turn make me wealthy and allow me live the comfortable happy life that I perceived. However, after coming across Thus Spoke Zarathustra, I realized the shadows were only distortions of reality, that I was heading in the wrong direction, towards the last man (selfishness and lack of ambition) and that I instead needed to move towards the Übermensch (vitality and risk-taking). In Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Nietzsche introduces three metamorphoses: from the camel, learning a trade; to the lion, mastering a trade; to the child, creating a personal interpretation of the knowledge. After reading Nietzsche, I became the camel taking on the burdens of knowledge. I searched for insight from literary and philosophical ideas ranging from Homers idea that cleverness outweighs strength in The Odyssey, to Dantes journey through hell to paradise as an analogy of our struggle to achieve the virtuous life in The Divine Comedy. From Voltaires satirical take on the view that everything happens for a reason and will work out by itself in Candide, I moved on to Joyces use of parallax and stream of consciousness to show the necessity for multiple perspectives in Ulysses. I began to enlighten myself through the philosophies of Plato and the importance of knowledge and wisdom to maintain society, and Descartes and his view that reason is the essence of humanity. I learned about Sartre and his view that people are entirely responsible for all elements of themselves, and Heidegger and his question of being. All of this helped me to ease the burden of the camel and to better see the bright light of the sun.
I hope that it is here, at the University of Michigan, where I can transform into the second metamorphosis, the Lion, by developing an expertise in literature, science, or the arts. However, becoming the Lion is not enough for me, as the great philosopher Descartes once said: it is not enough to have a good mind; the main thing is to use it well. Like Zarathustra who after enlightening himself, uses his Will to Power, the motivation to personal strength that is inside all of us, to go under and enlighten humanity, I need to be able to exercise my Will to Power in order to put to use my knowledge. For me, this means to generate something original and unique. Whether that be writing a book, doing research to advance science and technology, or helping others locate their own Will to Power. Only then, will I morph into the third and last metamorphosis, the child, and develop a new innocence. This will complete the cycle which began with a book, will grow through my attendance at an institution like the University of Michigan, and whose final stage will be created as I integrate the knowledge that I attain with my own unique perspective.