Paradox of a Perfectionist | Colorado School of Mines Undergraduate Application Essay

As I deliberately draw back the taut string of my recurve bow, a faint groan from the strained wooden limbs manages to drown out the commotion of the hundreds of spectators and competing archers. I have attained a state of consummate mental clarity, and every element of the crowded, sunny field fades away except for the small yellow circle twenty yards away. Tensed for my first shot of the day, I can feel the tinges of disquietude tugging at the tightened muscles in my shoulders. The tip of my arrow slides past a simple magnetic device and I hear the faint click that tells me to release the string. The hushed commentary of the crowd and peripheral motions of my opponents rush back into focus as the waxed string snaps back into place. I can see that my shot has landed fully four inches from the black x that demarcates the absolute center of the target face.

Scoring nine points to my competitor’s perfect ten, my first arrow has earned me a disadvantage that I receive as a sharp spur in my side. For a moment, frustration begins to simmer at the base of my neck; I wonder whether I am a true archer or just a boy with a bow. I look down at my hand, which has autonomously grasped the tail of a new arrow and drawn it halfway from my…

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