This is a rush job, unfortunately. I started last night and I'm trying to get it out right away before my application is considered. Please be harsh! In my personal statement, I discuss in length the circumstances of my estrangement from my family and how it shaped my aspirations to enter law.
It was finals week and I was sweating. Not because of exams, but because of what was coming after exams: move-out day, when students head home to spend the holidays with their families. There was no homecoming in store for me; I hadn't spoken to my family in over a year, ever since my parents lost custody of me following years of abuse. Now move-out day loomed on the horizon, and with nowhere to go, I confronted the specter of becoming homeless again.
I had done my best to prepare for this contingency – all semester long I had worked 35 hours a week, making sandwiches for minimum wage at a restaurant in Yorktown. But after paying for gas, books, a computer, and some ill-timed dental surgery, I was nearly broke. With winter break fast approaching, I did the only thing I could do – call the restaurant and ask to work more hours. Studying would have to wait.
Students attending school without the support of family become accustomed to making sacrifices. There are the added responsibilities of needing to secure stable housing and employment. There are the pressing financial burdens that often take precedence over coursework. And there are the emotional challenges of attending school without the guidance and love of a parent, a deficiency that can leave one feeling rudderless.
And there was, for me, a psychological hurdle that my newly-found independence left me ill-equipped to handle. The wounds of the estrangement from my family were still fresh; I had it made it through intact, but shaken. My feelings of anger and aggrievement were isolating, exacerbating a sense of apartness that had incubated within me as a child growing up in a broken home. These feelings became more concentrated as the semester wore on, like bile spreading across my psyche. And yet I sought no counseling and consulted no friends, convinced as I was that I held the answers within myself. The independence I so coveted was becoming less a virtue than a crutch.
I began turning deeper inwards, becoming distant. As a child I grew up unloved; now I viewed the world with a deeply distorted sense of self-worth. I questioned the motives of those who showed me affection or concern, severing relationships when they became too close – abandoning people before they had a chance to abandon me. The path I walked was one well-worn by many who were raised in an abusive home, seemingly fated to be consumed by resentment and self-pity until it became an irresistible force, a black hole from which no light escapes.
But this, in fact, was not my fate. I did not go over the precipice; I pulled back from the brink. It was an old habit that sparked this sea change – in high school I was active in the community, serving as president of the Student Senate and working on progressive campaigns. Now as a sophomore in college, I found myself beginning to re-engage, working on campaigns for LGBT rights and drug policy reform. Soon, I ran for a seat on the Student Senate and won. Serving on the steering, finance, and civic action committees, I was invigorated by my work on issues like student privacy and university police oversight. Later, as the finance coordinator of the student government, I managed budgets for student organizations and helped secure funding for clubs and services. I found fulfillment in public service, a sense of accomplishing something tangible for people and working towards a cause larger than yourself. It gave me the sense that I had a place in the community and an important role to play.
It is my desire to effect change that brings me to the present moment, a desire to advocate for the disadvantaged and underrepresented, to work towards a more just society. These are no mere platitudes; they are part of my identity, forged from my past and the rediscovery of self that helped me break free from my isolation. My road to law school and this application has been circuitous and perhaps unintuitive to some – many eyebrows have been raised at the prospect of a children's piano teacher aspiring to enter law school. But I remain undeterred, for I am never more myself than when I'm acting as an agent for change. This is my guiding impulse, and I enter into this new challenge with eyes open, and unshakable confidence in the course I have charted.
(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
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