Some of us can write page after page of stories, essays, or reports about other people. However, when writing about yourself, you probably have encountered the all-too-common ‘about me’ writer’s block! So, what is the ‘about me’ writer’s block? It is a type of writer’s block that only affects you when you have to write about yourself—for an author bio, a cover letter, or, most importantly, a college application.
College application essays are tricky! The first thing to note is the context of a college app essay—your goal, in this case, is to give insight into who you are. Understandably, most of us aren’t very comfortable writing about ourselves in a way that could sound mushy or arrogant if done incorrectly.
This blog post isn’t just a collection of tips and tricks for your college application essays. We’ll also discuss why we feel uncomfortable writing about ourselves and ways to overcome the hesitation. So, keep reading if you want to know some obvious and some not-so-obvious tips for being more comfortable writing about yourself.
Why do we hate writing about ourselves?
Writing about ourselves can be a daunting task. It requires us to delve deep into our thoughts and feelings and put them on paper for others to read and judge. Doesn’t sound comforting, does it?
There are several reasons why many of us find writing about ourselves to be uncomfortable or even unpleasant. Two of the main reasons for this discomfort are vulnerability and self-awareness. Let’s tackle them one by one.
Many of us struggle to write about ourselves because it requires us to be vulnerable. When we write about our experiences, thoughts, and feelings, we expose ourselves to potential criticism and rejection. This vulnerability can be tricky in a college application essay, where we are under intense scrutiny by the concerned authorities.
The fear of being judged makes it hard for us to be authentic in our writing, and we end up presenting a sanitized version that doesn’t reflect our true selves.
Lack of self-awareness
Writing about yourself can be challenging unless you have a high degree of self-awareness. To write convincingly about ourselves, we need to clearly understand our strengths, weaknesses, values, and goals. Though uncomfortable, we’d typically need to reflect on our past and think deeply about what we want for our future. This level of self-reflection can be unnerving and may even lead to feelings of anxiety or self-doubt.
Another challenge is finding a balance between presenting ourselves positively and being honest about our limitations or challenges. Again, you must have a high degree of self-awareness to strike the perfect balance.
What if you don’t like writing in the first place?
For those who struggle with putting their thoughts on paper, the prospect of writing a college application essay can be overwhelming. It can be hard to know where to start, how to organize your thoughts, and how to make your writing engaging and impactful.
If you don’t enjoy writing, this can be extra challenging. It’s easy to get stuck in a cycle of self-doubt and negative self-talk, hindering your writing ability. On top of that, you need the technical skills and strategies necessary to write a strong essay, such as outlining, revising, and seeking feedback.
Despite these challenges, it’s important to remember writing is a skill that can be learned and improved upon with practice. By developing a writing routine, seeking out resources for writing support, and approaching the process with a growth mindset, you still create a compelling and effective essay even if you don’t ‘enjoy’ writing. And by focusing on your unique strengths and experiences, your writing will feel authentic and genuine to who you are.
How to feel more comfortable writing about yourself in college essays
In the following section, we’ll give you some actionable tips to be more comfortable writing about yourself in college essays. Keep working on them, and you’ll soon feel zero hesitation writing (or bragging) about yourself in a college application.
Tip #1: Practice writing freely
One way to overcome the discomfort of writing about yourself in a college application essay is to practice writing freely. This means setting aside time to write without worrying about structure, grammar, or content. The goal is to get comfortable with the act of writing and to generate ideas that can be refined later.
Here are three prompts that’ll help you write more freely. Just note whatever you can based on these prompts, and you’ll soon have the confidence to write about yourself in a college application:
1. “Write about a moment that shaped who you are today.”
Reflect on your experiences and identify a specific event or moment that significantly impacted your life. It’s a great way to get into the practice of writing freely.
2. “Describe a person who has influenced you.”
This prompt asks you to think about the people in your life who have positively influenced you.
3. “What are your goals for the future?”
This prompt invites you to think about your aspirations and dreams for the future.
Tip #2: Pretend you’re writing about someone else
Another helpful tip for college application essays is to pretend you’re writing for someone else. Pretending you’re writing about someone else is a great way to tackle the awkwardness of boasting about your achievements and see the essay more objectively.
Here are three prompts to practice this technique:
1. “Write a letter of recommendation for yourself.”
This prompt asks you to imagine that you are writing a letter of recommendation for a friend or colleague, but you’re actually writing it for yourself.
2. “Imagine you’re being interviewed by a journalist.”
This prompt asks you to imagine being interviewed by a journalist who wants to write a profile about you. Think about the questions the journalist might ask and your responses.
3. “Write a bio for a social media profile.”
This prompt asks you to imagine that you’re creating a profile for a social media platform like LinkedIn or Instagram. Then, write a short bio summarizing your experiences, skills, and interests.
Tip #3: Use a creative format
Another tip is to use a creative format. Here are some examples of innovative formats you can use:
Write a letter: Instead of writing an essay, consider writing a letter to your future self or a college admissions officer. This can be a more personal and intimate format that can allow you to express your thoughts and feelings uniquely.
Use a metaphor: You can use a metaphor to describe yourself and your experiences. For example, you might compare your life to a journey or a puzzle and use this metaphor to structure your essay and showcase your experiences.
Make sure the creative format you choose is appropriate for the content of your essay and allows you to answer the prompt effectively.
Tip #4: Focus on how you’ve grown
Writing about yourself can be easier once you realize how far you’ve come. So here are three prompts to help you register with a focus on your growth and development:
1. “Reflect on a time when you faced a challenge.”
Think about the strategies you used to overcome the said challenge.
2. “Write about your passions and interests.”
Think about how your passions have influenced your goals and aspirations and shaped you.
3. “Reflect on your academic journey.”
Think and write about how you have grown and developed as a student.
The big picture
As you navigate the challenge of writing about yourself in a college application, keeping the big picture in mind is essential. This essay is an opportunity to show your personality, accomplishments, and goals.
Using our tips and techniques, you can write an essay reflecting the bigger picture of who you are and what you hope to achieve. And if you need more help writing better college application essays, check out Lessonpal’s writing tutors, who can help you develop your writing and college essays!