I will never forget the day Michael Jackson died. While the world was watching the King of Pop at UCLA Medical Center, I was watching lifeguards search to save my best friend XXX who had been beneath the waves at XXX for 5, 10, 20 minutes. Not half an hour ago we stepped into the water, and before I could turn around a rip tide pulled him out of my sight. The second I got on shore, I knew my friend XXX, the man who fundamentally shaped my character, was dead. I sat frozen on the beach, the wind mercilessly whipping by as I summoned the courage to call his sister. “No Michelle, this was not a bad prank, please listen to me: you need to get here right away, your brother is in trouble.” They dragged his limp body out of the ocean an hour later, and XXX was gone from me forever. The challenges I faced through my best friend’s life and death helped develop my rationality.
If you asked me ten years ago, I would have laughed at the idea of spending a day at the beach with XXX. This was the same kid who put me in a trashcan, the guy who sent me to years of therapy for depression with his bullying. XXX and I went to school together for nine years, and he constantly picked on me. I coped with some self depreciating humor but the jokes still hurt. This changed after just a few trips to Dr. YYY. Dr. YYY challenged my perceptions of why I was bullied, shifting the focus from my own insecurities which allowed me to empathize with and understand others. He taught me to view the situation stoically, to understand the reasons why he made fun of me. I dug deeper, past the level of my own hurt to understand XXX’s motivations. Armed with the poise that comes from understanding others, I was able to dismiss any joke and reclaim my autonomy. My depression was cured. XXX and I became so close that he, rather than my parents, moved me into my college dorm. XXX’s teasing at a young age became a blessing as it strengthened my analytical insight.
I pursued my interest in logical thinking by captaining the logic section of my academic decathlon team in middle school, leading my team to third place in Los Angeles. Applying my love of logic to law, I argued as the pretrial attorney, leading my high school to the semi finals of the Los Angeles mock trial competition. Disappointed that UCLA’s mock trial team emphasized dramatics over reason, I discovered game theory in college. I took every course I could, including graduate studies. After my earlier experiences with XXX, the logic of game theory was clear. My optimal strategy depended on understanding the motives and strategies of others like XXX.
The day of XXX’s funeral, I heard a terrible scream from inside the church and found his mother arched over his coffin sobbing hysterically. I felt the need to stand in for XXX and console her. However, XXX’s father stood aloof in the corner, simmering in his anger and blaming me for his death. I understood where his anger came from- if my son had died I would hate the last people he was with too. Analytically knowing that Mr. ZZZ’s anger came from grief, I applied the peace of mind I learned in grade school. I rushed to his mother and respectfully greeted his father. Understanding how weak they both were, I finished arranging the service. Meanwhile, the Smith’s, family friends in the midst of a feud, threatened to expose XXX’s hidden problems to his parents. With a level head, I identified the core issue- they too felt blamed for XXX’s death and wanted vindication. They retracted their threat after I explained how Mr. ZZZ’s anger should not be taken personally and how sharing XXX’s problems would magnify his hurt, leading to more blame. I only managed XXX’s death thanks to the maturing I did during his life. The challenge of XXX’s death was the last gift he gave to me- I am now able to view a situation, even one as delicate as my best friend’s death, objectively and logically.
I had recieved a lot of feedback to make the PS a lot more about MY abiliites to succeed in law school, rather than the situation in the story. Let me know what you guys think. Any comments appreciated!
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