My main concern is if it's too long, or if I'm painting too much of a sob story. But please, any feedback would be much appreciated.
“One of the reasons people stop learning is that they become less and less willing to risk failure.”
– John W. Gardner
Any second now. I would press my head against the glass, anxiously waiting for the first sight of the train to come through that final tunnel and pass right in front of me. A sense of bliss, highlighted by the model train’s whistle resonating throughout the hospital lobby, was only momentary, as the train would rush by and leave me yearning for more. As a young boy, I had become fascinated with every aspect of this train exhibit, transfixed by a combination of its enormous structure and aesthetic illustrations of varying landscapes the train would run through, ranging from a lush forest mountainside to the grandiose Dallas skyline. Much to relief of my parents, my fascination with this exhibit blinded me to the fact that it welcomed me to a hospital I would visit for routine semi-annual follow-ups and brain examinations, the same hospital in which, as a one-year old, I underwent invasive brain surgery, leaving me at one point dead, only to be brought back and free of any malignant complications.
I began to internalize the significance of my surgery as a young child behaving uncooperatively with my late grandmother as she sat me down through daily lessons of Spanish instruction. Overwhelmed by the foreign nature and complexity of the language, I would eventually ask her why I needed to learn any of this, to which she routinely replied that speaking fluent Spanish would be one way I could make a unique, yet positive impact on society. “You were blessed enough to stay alive, because you were meant to make a difference in this world,” was a message she strongly emphasized. It was a lesson she made sure I didn’t forget before she passed away. If any doubt creeps up, I can run my hand through my hair, along the scar surrounding my skull to remind myself of the physical proof of this message.
It feels invigorating when I view my opportunity to live as an invitation to leave a lasting impression on the community and world at large. There never ceases to exist a need for leaders around the world, for they direct the way society advances. A point of emphasis in John Stuart Mill’s On Liberty is that a broad acceptance of the established norm leaves society with no thirst for creative expression and revolutionary thinking, ultimately leaving it stagnant. Essentially, in order to maximize one’s ability to make a tangible difference on society, one must be eager to learn and draw from the experiences that come about in life. Such opportunities to learn indescribably enrich an individual to a great extent, in the same way that something as simple as a toy train coming out of the tunnel before a young boy’s eyes can fill him with joy and satisfaction. Yet, it is important to seek out and desire these opportunities, for much like a train, they may pass by without hesitation and regard, leaving one behind and empty. This inquisitiveness provides the ultimate link between learning and leadership: one must be able to ask questions, assess the direction, learn from contextual changes, and develop responses to those changes in order to be the most effective leader.
Ultimately, the ability to learn from one’s self is the most necessary tool in the path to becoming a leader. As a young child, I was developing the idea that leading and learning are mutually dependent actions; an effective leader must constantly be learning about the environment in which one chooses to lead and how changes in that environment will affect the actions that a leader must take. Doing so helped redefine my perspective towards assessing the experiences that I would encounter, evaluating them by how they made me a better person and a better leader. Leadership was beginning to take a much more active role in my life. The pursuit to achieve fully bilingual proficiency, in addition to maintaining discipline in my academic pursuits, has taught me how leaders must proactively dedicate themselves to achieving the goals they desire. Embracing the opportunities of living overseas in Malaysia for the past four years, as well as studying abroad in Austria over a summer, have served as learning experiences that have helped broaden my sense of awareness to what people of different cultures and ethnic backgrounds value in life as well as their own culture, and how they go about to maintain these traditions while improving their quality of life. Essentially they have helped ingrain in my head the value of a leader’s ability to be open and aware of abnormal experiences that may teach valuable lessons. Facing hardships such as caring for my mother the entire summer before my freshman year as she battled a sudden heart condition and subsequent open-heart surgery, as well as the passing of my grandmother this June have helped enforce a leader’s ability to be firm, constant, and resilient, so that others may lean on for support. Assuming positions of leadership and roles, whether they are endeavors within school, my fraternity, or my jobs, have provided experiences and venues of application in which I can practice and learn what facets of leadership I exemplify well and what qualities I could improve on.
Leaders are unique because they are primarily driven by purpose, namely a purpose to make a difference and deeply impact the lives of others. As I begin a new chapter in my life, I wish to develop my leadership qualities and capabilities through further experiences; experiences that help a leader discover how to use his services to benefit others. Experiences that help an individual unlock his purpose. The purpose of maximizing the most out of life because one’s mortality does not grant the opportunity to start over. The study of law will provide an excellent context in which to accomplish this objective. I have been drawn by the enriching experience of a legal education for a very long time, and I feel that my individual qualities and characteristics are very compatible for successfully mastering the rigor of a legal education. The diverse experiences, desire to learn, and ability to inspire success within those around me will be beneficial to the XYZ law school community, in the same way that a legal education will further enrich me in my desire to touch the lives of others. I possess the intellect, the inspiration, and the integrity to become an outstanding attorney; all that I ask for is the opportunity.
(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
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