Essay on a Personal Goal

Colleges want to know your passions and what drives you, and asking to describe a personal goal is one way of exploring those topics. Below is how one student responded when a college asked her to discuss a significant personal goal she achieved. She also used it in modified form to address similar essay topics addressing personal value, intellectual interests, adversity, a personal activity, among others:

The room resonates with the sound of the last note. The echo hovers softly above the crowd until it fades into the applause of a packed auditorium. My heart races, still feeling the excitement of the piece pulsating in my blood. The entire orchestra stands up for a bow. For a second, it seems like all eyes are on just me. Now I was the Concert Master I had admired three years ago.

I switch hands into a non-dominant cradle and whip my lacrosse stick toward a fleeting opening I see in the goal. I look over to the sideline and my coach is smiling at me—a rare sign of emotion. I feel the momentum build within myself and my teammates; although we are down by two and time is winding down, there is a newly inspired hope.

After reading Albert Camus’s The Stranger, translated into English, I understand the basic plot, but the allegedly philosophical power of this novel continues to elude me. I now realize how much is really “lost in translation,” as words that technically mean the same thing in English don’t make the same impression on me as they do in their original French. I am suddenly closer to Camus and his ideas.

Existentialism itself captivated me immediately, and not merely because of Camus’s brilliant prose. I was drawn to the whole idea that a person’s existence is determined by that person’s own choices in life, that there is a freedom to one’s actions. I have made various sacrifices in my life, forgoing short-term gratification in order to strive toward long-term goals, and I used to resent these sacrifices.

But these efforts were, in the end, what mattered. Success is only as gratifying as it is because of the struggle and energy it entails. If success came gift-wrapped in a box waiting for me at my front door, it would not mean as much to me. That violin note, that lacrosse goal, that linguistic epiphany—each is beautiful to me because of what came before it. The memory of those private struggles is, in truth, what I experience most intensely during my moments of glory.

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