A couple of weeks ago, I heard a dean of admissions from the University of Virginia speak on the
dreaded subject of the college essay.
The gist of his speech? Be the best YOU.
He said, every year he reads countless essays from prospective applicants trying to be who they think UVA wants them to be.
Thomas Jefferson is my role model.
The Louisiana Purchase and me.
Why I Believe the Declaration of Independence Rocks!
And countless other themes that manage to mention the lawn, the academical village, or the rotunda.
The lawn at the University of Virginia.
These essays are not endearing to the admissions staff.
Because Thomas Jefferson founded the University of Virginia, and writing about him is a warning that student X is trying to push his or her unique, but angular self into the UVA circle.
And losing an opportunity to be themselves.
It got me thinking how this applies to so many things. How many times are you filling something out and you see:
Tell us a little something about yourself.
Or what about those bio fields in social media? Or if you’re a writer, what about the author blurb, or About Me page?
Like the college essay, these descriptions could be your one shot to sum up YOU.
Maybe you’re thinking they’ll eventually see who you are, but what if that first impression is your only opportunity to go from person X, to the eXtra special, unique you?
For instance, UVA gets twenty-nine thousand applicants a year. Pinterest currently has forty million users. Twitter even more. And hundreds of thousands of books are published in the U.S. every year.
There’s bound to be A LOT of circles. And when you’ve seen one circle, well…they all blur into one massive blob. They become like white noise.
If you’re trying to make an impact, looking for connections, or just trying to be seen, then you don’t want to be the white noise.
If you want to be found, then you kind of have to let your INNER WALDO shine.
Not that it’s easy. I struggle with filling out those short bios. Here’s the latest author bio I’ve written.
Coleen Patrick grew up in New Jersey, Virginia, Michigan, Louisiana, and Indiana. Always being the new kid, she learned that books and friends are precious—and dessert. She never met a dessert she didn’t like (except for flan).
When she’s not writing, reading (or avoiding flan), she enjoys TV, arts and crafts, quoting movies, and trying to take cool photos.
She lives in Virginia with her husband and two kids.
Now this is short, but it seemed to take me forever. Because I wanted to be me (well me, in a few sentences), but at the same time it was cringing to be real.
It’s not easy to allow a part of yourself to be vulnerable. In this particular case, I was afraid to be a little funny. Except funny is important to me.
So how can you get started telling a little about yourself?
It might help to ask yourself some questions:
What do I like best about myself? What are my talents, interests? What do I believe in? What would my perfect day look like? What would I do if I had unlimited time or energy?
Find a way to be true to yourself.
Because somewhere out there, whether it’s a university, an employer, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, a bookshelf…someone is looking for YOU.
Why not make it easy for them to see you?
Do you have any advice on how to sum up you? What would you do if you had unlimited energy?
Have a spectacular week!
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