My Personal Statement: Georgia Institute of Technology - Alfonso A.

19 DEC 2020

In his personal statement for Georgia Institute of Technology, Alfonso writes about the feeling of estrangement he felt upon returning home from his third year of boarding school. He describes how he adapted to the changes made in his absence and grew to appreciate them to “find comfort in the uncomfortable.”

This essay is part of a collection of personal statements written by Crimson students who were accepted to their top-choice universities in the US and UK. By bringing together nearly 25 of our best students’ essays, we want to provide inspiration for future students with the same aspirations and goals. This series will showcase the wonderful variety in our student’s essay creations — powered by their personal voice and supported by their dedicated Crimson essay mentors. Ready to be inspired? Let’s go…

I was still in shock.

My golf coach now taught me from a wheelchair. My sister’s bangs were gone. The old Mickey Mouse dishes had been replaced by white porcelain ones. My room was no longer light blue and yellow, instead painted a dark navy. I was no longer part of my friends’ most recent anecdotes. The main cook at my taco stand was gone.

That night I lay in a bed that didn’t feel like mine, holding my breath, eyes wide open. All I could think of was the feeling of my chest being pumped with air and an urge to run away. I felt cold in the place where I had always felt warm, like I was trying to fit into a puzzle I was no longer a piece of. Was I at the right address? Or had I taken a trip to Mars like I have always wanted to and came back to see everything changed? This was still my house, but I didn’t feel at home in it. How was that possible?

I left for boarding school when I was fifteen. Now, I was back for my third summer since then and three years of accumulated changes hit me like a basketball to the face. Moving away when you’re that young is definitely a challenge with added responsibilities and having to live alone, but coming back and feeling like a foreigner in my own home was a far stranger experience. I felt paralyzed by how estranged I felt.

After some days of feeling completely alienated, I was practicing with my now wheelchair-bound golf coach and couldn’t focus. My frustration grew as I wasn’t able to hit the ball straight. After a couple of minutes, he quickly corrected my swing and I started improving. Then, he declared, “You see, I’m still the same old man.”

I drove back home, thinking about what he had said. He could still coach me better than anyone. I pondered over this. This man had been my mentor for years and suddenly his entire puzzle had shattered, or so I thought. Yet, his spirit had remained unchanged. His unwavering defiance in the face of trauma made me realize that perhaps not all of the changes that had welcomed me were negative. I couldn’t let these differences bring me down; I didn’t have many days at home and couldn’t let them go to waste. I had to adapt.

For the remaining days before I went back to boarding school, I tried to appreciate all the new things that had welcomed me back. I realized how my friends and I still had the same connection and now had more stories to share. My bed regained my shape. I still loved my sister no matter what her hair looked like and that taco stand remained my favorite, no matter who the chef was. I was still part of the puzzle, my piece had just changed shape, and the puzzle had too. If I was going to fit in again, I had to remember the similarities between me and them, then and now. I had to recognize the changes in the puzzle and find my spot in it once again.

I learned to find comfort in the uncomfortable. I made new friends at boarding school each year even when my old friends were gone. I have adapted to different teachers and housemates every year. Constant change has pushed me to overcome the struggles of feeling out of place. Now I know that I am able to adapt to new scenarios by changing with them and finding my place within them. Things will inevitably undergo change and more challenges will arise, but I’ll always remember that discomfort is good and that it should be seen as a guiding light towards paths of growth.

The shock was finally gone - I could breathe again.

NEXT WEEK: Read the essay that got Grace P. into Vanderbilt!

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