Why Writing A Personal Statement is the Worst

I’ve known for years that I was going to apply to medical school. I took all the right classes. I rose to meet every challenge I’ve been presented, but somehow, all of that has paled in comparison to this one piece of 5300-character writing. Chances are, if you’re applying to any sort of graduate or professional program, you’ve got to write a personal statement too. It seems easy enough: just write about yourself and talk about how great you will be at the thing you’re applying to do. Maybe I’m overthinking it, but writing a personal statement ranks pretty high on my “worst things ever” list.

There is nothing worse than staring at a blank word document and having absolutely no idea what to say. A Google search suggests to write about a time where you had to overcome a challenge or an experience that taught you a lesson, which is great, because you probably have about a million of those to write about. Have you ever been asked those questions in an interview and totally blanked? As luck would have it, that can, apparently, happen while writing too.

Some other advice I was given was to just start writing, so I do. It seems like hours of typing and backspacing and typing and backspacing and typing and backspacing and… well, you get the idea. By now, there has to be something useful on the page. A quick read-through finally shows some more refined ideas, so you start feeling a little better.

Now you’ve got something to write about and it’s getting easier. You finish writing the essay. The next day, you come back to it, reread the prompt and read over your writing in horror. You’ve written a heck of an essay, but it doesn’t quite answer the question. Now, you’ve got to fix it.

Okay, we’re back on track. This is much better. You read your work over. It answers the prompt and it’s somewhat interesting. Nailed it! But…

… what if the readers don’t like it? What if they think you’re full of yourself? Should you write a different essay? The first one was already so difficult. Oh goodness, what if they ask for even more essays? Do they even read these things? What if this is the only reason I don’t get in? Self-doubt is so much fun.

The best strategy for writing your personal statement?

Just kidding. Just go for it; the sooner you start, the sooner you’ll finish and be free of the burden that is a personal statement. You’re amazing and awesome and any graduate program will be lucky to have you. Pour some wine and get to writing.

 

Pictures: cover, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6