Monday, July 16, 2012

Essay Writer's Block

You'd think after nearly 150 consecutive days of blogging, a little 250-word essay would be easier than stealing candy from a baby...though clearly less fun.  I've made a fortune--by which I mean slightly more than $100--by churning out random posts covering just about every imaginable topic.  From Pop Tart carrying cases to Iowa to taxes to weather to work to children who soil themselves at school, I've tackled every last one.  Yet when it comes time to even start brainstorming potential responses to a grad school application essay, I start sweating like a competitor at the Fat Kids' Summer Olympics and turn into this:

I'll admit, some of the essay questions seem fair: What are your short- and long-term career goals?  How will our MBA program help you achieve those goals?  Fair, perhaps, but that doesn't make them any easier to answer.  But then some questions are just absurd.  While scanning the application for one school, I found this essay question: If you could choose one song that expresses who you are, what is it and why? (250 word maximum).

First, I found myself getting a little too technical.  The question says IF you could why not just respond by saying that I couldn't choose?  That would be an honest, easy, and incredibly fast way to avoid that pesky inquiry.  But an admissions panel might interpret that response as sarcastic and back to the drawing board.

I thought more about the question, and when it comes down to it, what's so hard about writing 250 words on any topic?  I pride myself on churning out lengthy blog posts about anything--or more often that not, absolutely nothing.  I've written thousand-word essays every day for the past five months.  Heck, before I even started typing this sentence, I've already surpassed 250 words and more.

Yet when I try to think about what song might describe me, only hilarious responses come to mind.  First, there's "Pretty People" by Dexter Freebish, a song whose lyrics include:

I cannot help it that I'm so good looking
I cannot help it that I have the perfect body
You want me but you cannot have it
I'll slap your hand if you try to grab it

Other options popped into my head, too.  How about Blondie's "I Touch Myself"?  Or if they're looking or something a little more contemporary, I bet Justin Timberlake's "Bringing Sexy Back" would have an admissions panel throwing giant bags of scholarship money in my direction.  With the prospect of grad school applications on the horizon, Theory of a Deadman's "I Hate My Life" seems like an appropriate choice.  If they want a song, I might even demonstrate my ability to over-deliver and throw a whole album their way!  What better way to share my manliness than Tommy Bolin's classic 1970s album Come Taste the Man?  Well, that one might rub the admissions panel the wrong way...

As these brilliant ideas swirled in my head, I came to the conclusion that all this blogging has ruined me.  I can write page after page of ridiculous crap, yet when it comes time to put something serious on paper, my mind is blanker than the walls in my beautifully under-decorated apartment.  My genius brainstorming session generated songs that could convincingly convey a strong message of narcissism, self-loathing, or just plain creepiness.  I know very little about what it takes to get into business school, but I can tell you that those three categories are not the foundation on which one builds a successful admissions attempt. 

The guidelines with the essay question said that the song doesn't have to be well-known. So I suppose that if I were smarter, I would quickly write my own song consisting of lyrics about helping old ladies cross the street, saving African villagers from hungry lions, and rescuing endangered baby seals while solving world hunger.  Because what song could possibly do a better job of expressing who I am?

Unfortunately, here I sit, still staring at a vast sea of white space beneath each endlessly hopeless essay question.  On the bright side, if this whole back-to-school thing doesn't work out, I have a solid plan B in the works.  These past few months, I've been reading a practical and useful book that also has the unfortunate side effect of giving me violent nausea at the mere sight of its cover.

If no school will have me, then I can write my own book, which I'll title 500 Fun and Hilarious Ways to Get Rejected From the Top MBA Programs.  It promises to be a fun and easy read, and best of all, it will even appeal to readers who have no intention of attending business school.  Anyway, if you can think of song that describes me that might also portray me in a positive light to an admissions council, I'm all ears...

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