A Personal Statement Essay written for College Applications


Adriana Sliney, Student Contributor

Little 8-year-old me had no idea how to handle objects with caution─especially ones made of glass, capable of shattering with the slightest fumble. As I lift the heavy sphere with floating “snowflakes” and a tiny snowman smiling back at me, I hear my mom’s voice: “Don’t drop it! If it breaks, the snowman can’t live.” I look at the white frosted trees and jolly snowman’s smile. He was so happy; obviously, I didn’t want him to ‘die’.

“I won’t drop it, mommy.”  

Next were a million tiny shards of glass at my feet, water spreading slowly across the floor, and my new snowman friend decapitated. My 8-year-old self began sobbing as my mom dragged me away from the broken glass, the Target employee beginning to sweep up the mess. I felt beyond guilty for killing poor Frosty; the snowglobe had lost its purpose. Unexpectedly, this shattered snowglobe would teach me more than simply how to handle valuable objects with delicacy.

Entering my sophomore year, I never imagined pulling myself out from the deep mental hole I was trapped in. Looking up at the heavy cloud of depression and body dysmorphia hovering over me, I waited for the elusive definition of “perfect” to fall from the sky and resuscitate my paralyzed mind. Trapped in a vicious cycle of putting too much pressure on myself, each day revealed new blemishes to refine. I spent days gazing at the mirror contemplating which poses made me look the thinnest, and nights curled up on my bed crying, because none of those poses did me justice. A victim of comparison, I feared the rejection of self-love; beating up my body for not having a flat stomach like Instagram models posing in Bali, or the number on the scale increasing to “unacceptable” standards. Restricting that chocolate cupcake at a friend’s birthday party turned into googling “calories in” before putting anything in my mouth. The mirror ridiculed me, made me wish to shrink down to my 8-year-old self’s emaciation: “You should go for a run.”

I felt broken. Shattered. Ready to throw my ‘never good enough’ life away. It lost its purpose. 

What I’ve learned subsequently is that, in reality, the world needs more of you. Your slight and subtle beauty that makes others feel alive when they’re around you; something that no amount of treatments, detoxes, or medications could ever provide. Why spend hours in front of the mirror focusing on aspects of ourselves that we despise, when others find the same parts to be so beautiful? Why debate your peculiar stomach birthmark, those frizzy baby hairs that never seem to grow or smooth, or the slight asymmetry of your two shoulders? Why erase the things that make you uniquely you? 

I grew tired of wasting precious moments attempting to reduce myself, rather than contributing more of what makes me so great. Perfectionism devoured me until I was hollow, but I’m finally filled with the self-love I’ve sought for years. I’m so proud of every time I’ve fallen in some form, picking myself up and piecing myself back together along the way. My body will have rolls when I sit, and my stretch marks will show in a bathing suit—but this doesn’t diminish my value. I realized I may never perfectly fit into society’s standards, but for me, that’s more than perfect.

The endless cycle of fastidiousness has taught me that you cannot give perfect a solid definition. I’ve learned not to fear life’s criticism, mistakes, or rejection; I’m content with myself, my appearance, academics, relationships, and character: perfectly and imperfectly all at once. While I may be broken at times, this doesn’t mean sweeping away and discarding the broken pieces; it means picking up the shards and piecing them back together to construct the greatest version of myself. It’s okay being broken glass sometimes; it’s what you do with the glass that defines your character.