Describing a Person in a Statement

August 12, 2008

Though the sun is shining outside and the weather is quite amiable, I feel as if my life is going no-where; that all I am really good for is to sit in front of the computer and do no-thing but stare into thin air, awaiting the arrival of something extraordinary.

Though, the extraordinary is so much more than the ordinary, and as my life is devoid of even the most mundane of ordinary events, I believe I will have to stare into nothingness for eternties before something extraordinary accidentally happens to stumble past my glazed vision.

I am anxious as I intend to apply to Cambridge University’s Archaeology and Anthropology-program this fall, in little more than a month, and I need to finish my application.

I have a certificate of Advanced English (though I in reality would have preferred a certificate of Proficiency in English, something my own inability kept me from attaining).

I also have grades far above what is required, something which at first surprised me and which I now appreciate as it is one thing less to be worried about.

The school/college reference I trust one of my high school teachers will be kind enough to complete for me, as they are most delightful people – all of them. <3 Yet another thing I do not have to feel anxious regarding, in other words.

…And then there is the personal statement, the most important part of any university application. Though I have laboured its creation for more than half a year (I believe it being) I have come nowhere.

Though I believe myself independent and carefree, I can not help at the same time being bit of a cultural chameleon/social sponge. I absorb and react to the environment I am in; a trait of mine I am not fully convinced is either good or bad.

However, this means that though I am Miss Josephine who is no-one but herself, I have also adapted to fit into Swedish society, something I always have feared doing.

As I outlined in my January 18th entry It Is Taboo To Believe, it is hard for a genuine Swede to believe themself valuable.

The effect of this – my inability to value my own accomplishments and to fully understand who I am – has created problems for me as far as the personal statement is concerned.

It is hard to outline one’s potential and accomplishments when one believes in them, but during a whole life has been taught that no one else does. Of course, my family has always supported me, but to not be looked down upon by society and subsequently enable one to succeed, one has to fit into one of the templates assigned to one.

So, in other words, it is hard to write a short essay about what one during a whole life has been taught is taboo to even speak of – one’s value, potential and future.

And so I sit here, wondering what I have accomplished. I have come to the conclusion that though my grades are good, they are not the best. Sufficient, but not amazing.

I wonder, how am I supposed to explain in my statement my reasons for studying a subject unrelated to the one I now wish to pursue? To write that I am stubborn is probably not the best as the University is looking for applicants with minds open to new ideas. But then, I ask myself, as I realised my original convictions wrong, can then not this be considered as an openness of mind?

I do not know.

How shall I explain my academic potential impeccable when I have gone through little to illustrate my value? In reality, having dropped out from a college of high standards, claiming the courses offered were at a level too low would be sufficent illustration of this – but that is in my own mind.

Is having dropped out from a college and spent half a year on a quest to once more find oneself proof of academic potential? Have I wasted six months of my life to no good? For, I could very well have done something different – accomplished something. But then, had I done that, I would still be looking for myself.

I am now about to study a full-time course in Archaeology at the University of Gotland. Being terrified of ever moving away from home – but at the same time having realised that my future lies far away from the lands of my birth – I study the subject on-line.

Doing so, though the course is offered full-time, means I will have a lot of time on my hands to spend in the pursuit of other accomplishments. What has be kept in mind here, however, is that Miss Josephine is a Swedish native (even if it is involountarily so) and thus unfamilar with the status surrounding accomplishments. In many ways, it is a dimension of life unknown to most Swedes.

So, there is a nagging voice in the back of my mind, the inner Miss Josephine who is anxious beyound comprehension about the prospect of probably not being good enough to ever fit into a fine British University, telling me to do something.

But, what to do?

I could very well apply to become a substitute teacher, but I have no experience whatsoever with previous work with children. Further, I have already been rejected once by the association, something I like to believe being because of my then prospective full-time nursing studies, though I in reality know it was because of my severely lacking skills when it comes to interaction with other human beings.

So, if that option is impossible, then there must be others.

I had an idea, one which appealed to me greatly, of studying two full-time courses this upcoming year: one in Archaeology at the University of Gotland and one in Japanese at the University of Stockholm. One on campus, one on-line. I could have passed both two courses with flying graces, be sure. I do not doubt my own potential, I only doubt people’s convictions in my own potential.

However, I happen to live in Sweden – which should be obvious this far into the argument – something which makes my life very complicated. I have stressed these points before, but what is one more time when it is my future I am speaking of?

In Sweden, there is no way a student may be allowed to take two full-time courses at two different universities. No way. Never. Whatsoever. And so, I had to choose. And I chose Archaeology because I want to study Archaeology and Anthropoogy at the University of Cambridge next year. I believe it will show the admissions committé that I am passionate about my prospective subject.

However, not being able to study Japanese means I still am without proof of further accomplishments.

I could of course take a part-time job, but as I lack academic training and because there is no such thing as anthropology in Sweden, that option is also exhausted, to not say impossible and unattainable. (For, what point is there to be employed at the local food-store when it is no accomplishment to mention in one’s personal statement?)

Then, the creative Miss Josephine tells me: “Why do we not become artists?”

I could very well send my artwork to a few publishing companies for consideration. I believe myself somewhat talented, enough to land a position as a children’s book-illustrator. Perhaps. Mayhaps. Maybe.

But what is such an accomplishment to mention in one’s personal statement when it must be completed in little more than a month? It is to no use, and is thus a future plan, not a current one.

I could of course continue writing my own children’s books and illustrate them, as well as continuing to go insane over my novels(s) and my short stories. I could of course continue to paint my stones, bead my necklaces, embroider my dolls, sew my plushies, write in my Moleskine, sketch in my notebooks – being creative.

I would like this very much. But it is nothing one can put in a personal statement. That I am an artist and an anthropologist at heart may be too ambiguous for the admissions committé to appreciate. And still, that is who I am.

The person I see myself as being in 20 years of time is exceedingly boring, and still the prospect of it makes my heart skip a beat.

In 20 years – or perhaps much sooner that that – I see myself the resident of a adorable cottage in a rural area, the surrounding fields mine to roam, the surrounding forests mine to explore, vthe elvet-black starry skies mine to marvel over.

In that future, I am married with children. I am a trained anthropologist and I hold a part-time position as a university lecturer as I also am a teacher at heart. When not elaborating complex therories regarding the origin of the human form, its evolution and its current situation – its thoughts, its psychology, its purpose – I will be a mother, a novelist and an illustrator.

Academic works and novels both flow from my hands and imaginationg, alongside with children’s stories and associated illustrations, not to forget the short stories and their moral messages.

It is a future I find delight in imagining, and still, I believe the qualities of mine which bring me such joy are those which will keep me from attaining the future of my dreams.

That I am an artistic anthropologist is not something to be proud over. Oh no. In this world one has to be specialised, interested in one area only. Passions may not be many, they shall be few.

But then, is there any room left for one’s own being to grow, as one’s true purpose in this world is to be both happy and realise all the quirks of one’s own person?

I believe not.

So, who is this elusive creature otherwise known as Miss Josephine? What is it she wishes to write on her personal statement and knows she may not?

Miss Josephine wishes to explain her potential through an elaboration os the following concepts:

  • That she possesses an open mind as she is able to realise original, foolish convictions wrong.
  • That she is a creative scientist, something she believes a pre-requisite for academic success – to possess both wits and imagination to propel scientific advances forward through.
  • That she sees herself as a teacher, her aim being the attainment of a doctorate degree.

These are all marvellous concepts, so why is Miss Josephine in doubt? She does not know herself, is the short answer to such a question…

(…but it may have something to do with that she just accidentally snapped her last beading needle in half, is running out of beads, and the supply store is located a 40-minute walk away from her current location as commuteer communications are scarce over that distance, and she can not leave home as she has been assigned to baby-sit her two youngest sisters who are reluctant when it comes to covering distances 40 minutes by foot.)

Ah well, all I have to do is to labour my personal statement for a month and a week longer before the long wait of anxious anxiety begins, being ended by devastating disappointment or by ambiguous appreciation.


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