The Fundamentals of Who I Am and Who I Want to Be | Columbia University Undergraduate Application Essay

“I don’t want to be a product of my environment. I want my environment to be a product of me.” (Jack Nicholson – The Departed)

When I was a child, my best friend was (wait for it) a stick.

It became an extension of my arm, a conduit for my imagination. Using it as saber, hockey stick, and countless other tools gave 7 year-old me control over a narrative far more compelling than any dinky car or action figure could offer. My thoughts exploded as I wielded it; desperate, whirling lunges could repel marauding invaders, a sweeping shot would win Pakistan the hockey World Cup. The stick was powerless until I gave it life, energy, and meaning, and playing with it awakened a desire to control my life’s whole narrative, a desire that has resonated with me well beyond childhood. It offered an broad canvas where the richness of the narrative depended only on how my ideas shone through.

Creativity: As I gripped the stick in different ways, double-handed, laterally, and backwards, I created distinct personas. I had an extraordinary opportunity to experiment, weaving outlandish plotlines and character dynamics; each one had to be more daring than the last. I pictured myself as a warrior in battle, a statuesque warlock, and a hockey player…

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