How bad is this? Haha

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )

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How bad is this? Haha

Postby AspirantA » Wed Feb 08, 2017 3:50 pm

Please share your thoughts:

When most people ponder childhood as a Jehovah’s Witness, they use their personal frame of reference, lamenting poor kids who don’t celebrate the fun stuff like birthdays or Christmas. I was ambivalent to holidays, but the first day of any school year I had to prepare and reassert my right to abstain from The Pledge – those moments, and not being able to join any extra-curricular activities, are my strongest memories. My Missionary training stays with me. I read broadly, think critically, and engage with intent.
The first day of any school year brings a new teacher to perplex at my last name and refusal to pledge allegiance to a flag. My peers look more severe with each passing year when they notice my arms at my side – unaware of my deep appreciation for the constitutional protection being exercised. I respectfully dissent citing free speech when school administrators demand I leave the religious literature at home, a Sherriff in West Virginia claims we cannot visit homes in his neighborhood, and when a North Carolina city requires permits for neighborhood ministry. I cherished my country and freedom as a third generation Jehovah’s Witness, and this would upend my life.
These moments introduced me to the constitution, and instilled an appreciation for our system of government. I learned much during the ministry as well, how to keep knocking on doors despite the frustration of a seemingly fruitless endeavor – keep pushing on, how to stand up for my right to free speech when solicitation permitting requirements were applied to proselytization, and how to get along with anyone, at any time, discussing anything.


I homeschooled for five years to minister full-time, while working 15 hours weekly in sales for another Witness to afford a car for the ministry. I minister daily, if not helping construct a Kingdom Hall (place of worship) during our “quick-builds,” I author and deliver a sermon each month and have since eight years old. My appointment to Regular Pioneer - the only categorically draft-exempt class in JW laity - was prodigiously young at 14, the month I met this minimum age. I aspired to a monastic life at the world headquarters in Bethel – hopefully succeeding my uncle as head of the Lithuania branch. Not everyone has the luxury of knowing the moment that most shaped their life, mine was […]

I reviewed doctrines I defended for years, and could not reconcile rules against voting, which seemed unnecessarily reliant on divine intervention when Supreme Court rulings were so important to the ministry – a test Jesus rebuked with the words “Get behind me, Satan.” Shortly thereafter, I left the religion. This magnum opus of ministry service had become a cross to bear.
The realization - this is an irreconcilable doubt - struck like a bolt of lightning, followed by a crescendo of thunderous implications. If that point is wrong then so is the foundation of theocratic governance, the religion as a whole. Preaching is non-optional, so I cannot remain in the faith without bearing false witness – an unacceptable compromise of integrity. My prepared career path vanished, soon the job with Brother Schultz would follow. All of this whirls through my head as I break out in a cold sweat; if anyone finds out I lost faith, I will lose everything. I would be disfellowshipped, and none of my friends nor paternal family would be allowed to talk to me. I was wondering whether I would see my cousins again when the other shoe dropped: “now who am I?” This brought reflection, new self-awareness, and revelation. I still valued intellectual integrity, most of my morals and values were informed by the desire to be a good person, rather than religion - none of which needs to change with new perspective. I reexamined my world-view, I traced the flaws in my former logic and decided to critically evaluate my future rationale. Big changes were coming, with brand new opportunities!
I can finally get involved in politics, play a sport in school, have a girlfriend before turning 18 - but I'll never see my cousins become adults. My mind was made up with a single thought, my converts, those poor people who never asked for my earnest desire to see them "saved." What monster would ask others to give everything up, as I had, for something they didn't even believe in.

Hundreds of places of worship constructed, over a thousand sermons, annual missions to rural areas, every spare dollar donated, and well over 10,000 hours of proselytizing – all for a misguided or harmful cause. I lost everything: career prospects; relationships; the part-time job; and – except my mother – every JW in my family. To make matters worse, I was nearly two years behind in school, so we moved to Nevada for a fresh start.
The next year I won the Boys’ State oratory competition, passionately railing against the conventional wisdom to “never discuss politics.” “A representative republic who’s citizens don’t discuss the issues is no better than a ship’s crew who don’t discuss navigation – a nation adrift in stagnation – we must stay vigilant to protect our inheritance.” I pivoted to political and civic activism, volunteered for numerous campaigns, and worked for The Republican National Committee before volunteering for Clinton against Trump – which ended any hope of returning to partisan politics. It is my past that gave me the courage to choose the difficult path, to speak truth to power when called about campaign work, to speak at The American Heart Association’s Go Red Luncheon about my mother’s aortic dissection. I regret my ministry and am a product of my past, in many ways. I still cherish the protections afforded by our constitution, embrace diversity, and reject essentialism. I remain intellectually curious – eager to engage in any topic of conversation - building common ground with ease. I once parsed Psalms 93 alongside a text on Israelite shepherding practices, I now apply my passion for scholarship to secular pursuits.


My past stays with me, and I take disillusionment as an open door, a fresh start. I still actively rebel against my past, reading Supreme Court decisions, playing my drums to “unclean” music, and watching C-SPAN. My rebellion drives me to recover lost time, feeds my ambitions, and fuels my curiosity. My spiritual scholarship of any religion I may meet in the ministry transformed into a profound intellectual curiosity. I read broadly, think critically, and engage with intent- from ministry, to the debate team, to my education- and I’m grateful. I have learned that principles outlast viewpoints, disillusionment can be the opening salvo for something great, and how to rise to unfamiliar challenges.
In hindsight I was always drawn to socially rewarded behavior, so that I transitioned easily to school and extra-curricular activities should be unsurprising. Despite a two-year deficit of credits, I graduate just one semester late, having played on the drum line and football team, I volunteered to The Election Committee, was elected President in DECA where I won speech awards. Winning Impromptu and Motivational Speech competitions in FBLA and then The Nevada Boys’ State Oration Competition, I am again preaching to a congregation of Boys’ State delegates and their parents on our final day. I passionately deliver a sermon of crucially important civic engagement: “Can you imagine if the crew of a ship thought it impolite to discuss their heading, to chart their course? In the same way communication is necessary between the Captain, Navigation Officer, and Engine Operator, we are the crew tasked with our nation’s navigation. Political discussion is far from impolite. We share a duty to our inheritance, this representative republic, to inform others of our electorate, learn from them with an openness and even eagerness to be proven wrong, and to grow together - passionately creating a better future for ourselves and our children through civic engagement.“
My last undergraduate semester brought word of my paternal grandfather’s passing, after faithfully refusing a necessary blood transfusion in open-heart surgery. His funeral was the first time I saw a paternal relative in over ten years. It was a bittersweet reminder of what I lost, and a reaffirmation that the sacrifice was unavoidable. Former Witnesses tend to be bitter, feeling railroaded into a parent’s religion, which later shunned them with prejudice. I have made peace with the effects of my ministry, and appreciate the talents and values it instilled. It conditioned me to speak truth to power, to stand up for my beliefs, and to resist the pressure to compromise my values.

Potential connectors

Mom converted for my father, the black sheep of his JW family, when she was pregnant with me. When he disappeared ten years later, I grew even closer to his devout Witness family.

It was surreal, I felt like an alien visitor to another planet, or like this was a bad dream that couldn’t be real.


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Re: How bad is this? Haha

Postby CanadianWolf » Wed Feb 08, 2017 5:26 pm

Paragraph E2 should be your opening paragraph.

Paragraph I is the next most interesting paragraph, in my opinion.

The least interesting, and therefore, the least effective paragraphs are those in which you laundry-list specific accomplishments & activities.


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Re: How bad is this? Haha

Postby AspirantA » Mon Feb 13, 2017 8:42 pm

Thank you Canadian Wolf!

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Re: How bad is this? Haha

Postby 34iplaw » Wed Feb 15, 2017 4:21 pm

I sort of missed this, but I do agree with their comments. I actually think either would be a strong opening paragraph.

That said, I think this is actually a great way to write a personal statement. I assume you wrote different paragraphs at different points as things were on your mind.

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