Nobody in my class ever actually said that they expected senior year to be a breeze – but in all honesty, we were all sure that it would be a free ride. Senioritis kicked in halfway through sophomore year, we have easy classes on our schedule, and besides, we’re seniors now. Doesn’t that mean teachers are supposed to give us a break?
The first couple weeks of school were easy enough. The homework was nothing but syllabuses for parents to sign and simple worksheets that reviewed instead of taught. I had plenty of leisure time to bake, browse my favorite blogs, and take long walks with my camera pressed to my cheek. School was a short occupation for a few hours a day, but never on my mind once the final bell rang.
Unexpectedly, those unassuming “pass classes” began assigning huge chunks of homework that took hours to complete. I spent a memorable, horrible day studying for a psychology test, thinking to myself, “Oh, right… I’d almost forgotten what this was like.” Environmental science, which had seemed no harder than planting seeds in empty pop bottles, assigned a slew of projects and presentations without warning. And my stats class… oh, that’s a true nightmare. It may be my most hated class of all time, all four years of high school and all three years of middle school included. It’s that dull and unpleasant – and it’s the class that gives me the most homework.
But even if high school hadn’t just kicked into gear, I’d still be busy. College applications are proving to be one of the most intimidating, frightening pieces of work I have ever faced. I can’t help but feel like so much of my future depends on that application… no first impression has ever held so much at stake. And surprising as it might be, the toughest part of the application for me right now is the essay.
I know I have it in me to write a good essay. I love to write, I even want to go into writing as a career. And yet, every time I sat down to write an essay, I felt as blank as a peeled potato. Nowhere to begin, nothing to say, and no ideas to put into words. I wanted so badly to come up with something meaningful and vibrant, but all I could think about was, “Everyone is expecting my essay to be fantastic.” And the slow but steadfast pressure of it all seemed to compress every creative impulse in me. I spent thirty minutes looking at the cursor blink on the word document before finally giving up.
Feeling stressed and a little uneasy, I decided to work on a new 17 and Baking blog post. I assembled the photos, opened up wordpress, and started to write. I was halfway through the post, describing the warmth of toasted hazelnuts in my palms and the sweet scent of pineapple sage rubbed on my fingertips, when it hit me. Ten minutes earlier, my writer’s block had been so severe that I couldn’t continue. But now, with the stress of college and expectations lifted, I was free to really capture the words that formed in my head and the emotions that stirred in my heart.
Writing a blog post is so different than writing an essay. I don’t need to feel anxious about grammar, word choice, tones and themes and figurative language. I enjoy writing essays and writing comes naturally to me, but it would be a lie to call it easy. Writing an essay takes time, work, and a lot of thought on my part. But whenever I write a blog entry, the words simply flow out, fluid and easy. I never prewrite, or even plan what I’m going to say until I’ve sat down and begun to type. It takes no longer than 15 minutes to write a post, and it captures my voice so clearly that you, the reader, probably know me as well as anyone does.
I began to tackle my college essay the way I tackle 17 and Baking – I pretended each essay I worked on was a blog post. There was no need to be perfect, just to write what was in my heart. The words began to come out now, slowly, but without squeezing my mind through a funnel. I wanted to write about baking too, and for inspiration I went through every single post on my site, picking out the ones that were potential college essays in themselves. They’re all roughly a page long, describe me, my life, my passions, and my motivations, and talk about baking – something that I hope will stand out among a sea of “the big game” and “the day my grandmother died” essays.
Yesterday, I wrote a draft of the first college essay I’ve been happy with so far. I felt the knot loosen slightly in my stomach as I printed it out, and then I laughed and baked cookies to reward my perseverance.