Looking for examples of past college essays that worked? People who have grown up with siblings might laugh at the common app identity essay that I consider being an only child an essential part of my identity.
But just as a relationship with a brother or sister can be deeply formative, so can the absence of these relationships. For me, this absence has been a powerful stimulus to my imagination and my growth as a person. When people discover I am an only child, they often react with some sympathy, as if growing up alone meant growing up lonely. I had close friends in elementary school, I hung out with them mostly on weekends. But I never felt lonely. In these activities, I needed no conversation partner, no playmate, because the act of creation itself became my friend, challenging me to keep improving upon my skills. I learned to find satisfaction in the simple act of daydreaming.
For me, daydreaming is a powerful tool for my creativity. Almost all of my ideas–whether they concern building a robot, writing a student council speech, or solving a problem–originate in my daydreams. I have the ability to put my daydreams to use in real life. During my sophomore year of high school, I was watching two of my friends arm wrestle, and I began to daydream about arm wrestling. I began to wonder if there was a way to have two people arm wrestle against another two people.
My daydream then underwent a critical metamorphosis, from the realm of ideas to the realm of execution. That summer, I built a model for a double arm wrestling machine on Google Sketchup, and then, with the help of a professional welder, turned the model into a reality. As an added bonus, all the money I raised from the double arm wrestling tournament was donated to the people of Nepal, who suffered an earthquake a few weeks prior to the tournament. Growing up as an only child, learning to entertain myself with nothing but ideas, problems, and some rudimentary materials, has taught me the importance of listening to one’s own thoughts. This is especially important nowadays, as we live in a world full of screens and sounds competing for our attention. As a result, it is all too easy to tune out the more subtle frequency of our imaginations, the inner frontier. In fact, there is much to learn.
I am grateful, as an only child, to have had the chance to grow comfortable in that solitary space. When problems arise, I solve them using copper fittings. I first discovered this versatile building material as a seven-year-old visiting my father’s HVAC shop. While waiting for him to finish working one night, I wandered from the modestly finished space at the front of the building to the shop in back, which featured high ceilings and imposing stacks of shelves. I was fascinated by the dusty machines with tubes, knobs, and old cracked nozzles. When Dad found me shoulder-deep in the scrap copper bin–which I later referred to as “the world’s coolest trash can”–he determined that it was time to teach me to solder.