Everyone Has A Place That Is Special Essay

(May 30, 2006)

Life is full of unexpected surprises. There are many opportunities when one can secretly wish for something exciting to happen – something out of the ordinary. The real surprise is when the wish unexpectedly comes true. I never believed that something like this could ever happen to me; such a thing that would make me stop and look back at the events in awe. I think you would agree that something as simple as being lost in the forest for less than ten minutes should have no influence on my life. If you do agree, that makes both of us wrong.

Throughout my childhood, I loved the wild. My family and I would always go for a walk in the downtown forest of Coote’s Paradise. There were many times I thought of what could happen if we were to lose our way from the trail and have to live off of the land until we found our way back to civilization. I thought it would be the greatest experience ever.

As my brothers and I grew older, we continued to go for these walks with our parents but the dreams of living in the forest I soon forgot. That’s when it happened. We decided to take a different path off the main trail. Before I knew it, the path had disappeared and no one in my family could tell where we had come from. It was so unexpected. It gave me a feeling of excitement that can’t be described. Everything in the forest seemed different. The trees were a deeper shade of green. The birds chirped in a different tone. Vines covered almost every inch of the ground. One part of me never wanted this moment to end. I felt completely free from the stress of my life outside of the woods. It was this moment that I realized that I would much rather stay here for the rest of my life than go back to society.

I think that another reason that I felt carefree was because my parents didn’t panic. They took the situation under control and headed for any open area in hopes to find a map (many of these maps were found throughout the grounds, telling you where you were). From my point of view, at the time, it seemed as if they were excited as I was about losing our way. In the end, it only took my parents ten minutes to find such a map and we were back on the trail in no time.

An experience like this made me think about my place in life. I’m the type who loves seeking out adventures. When we were lost, I realized that I had everything I would ever need with me – my family. They’ve always supported me in everything I do. This experience made me realize that families need to stick together; you don’t realize how much you need them until, for a moment, you think they’ll be the last people you see for the rest of your life.

It’s incredible how much a simple thing like being lost in a forest for ten minutes will affect your outlook on life. Things like not being able to find your way back to where you came from make you appreciate the little things in life. Looking back on the day, I realize now that it was fate. Moments like that are few and far between and should be taken as a lesson. Surprises like this were, and always will be, an unexpected gift for all.

Describe a place or environment where you are perfectly content. What do you do or experience there and why is it meaningful to you?

My idea for an essay is about being content with achieving the best grades, and being a good person.The ever constant drive for the “A” and how “driven” I am about the hard work I put into being the best person I can be in all aspects of my life and how with that comes the sense of accomplishment but I want to use driving my car and the peace I find while driving as a metaphor for the satisfaction I get from working hard not just for my good grades but how that hard work relates to my life in general; that hard work pays off and I can use my “drive” to achieve success to ultimately reach a state of mind in which I am completely content.

This is the idea in my head but I can’t seem to get started with the wording, as you may be able to tell. I need to stay below 700 words and would like this to tell a story about me but in a light way.

I’m one of those people who have a reputation for being rather intense and always striving for perfection but in a funny sort of way. I don't mind working hard but I hold myself to a higher standard. I don't want to settle for less, I want to be the best. I feel most content when I achieve this. It doesn't always happen but I do try.

The one thing that offers a sense of balance to the intensity is when I drive my 5 speed car and listen to music. Its a way to empty my mind and just relax. I thought it would be a creative idea to combine the two. 

Any advice or help you can offer would be most helpful. Also, if you think I should approach this from a different angle, that too would be appreciated.

I'm really just trying to find a creative way to capture my drive in life  while achieving a balance and using my car as a metaphor. 

Thanks so much!

This is some background info for the prompt.

Nearly everyone can identify a location that brings contentedness. But this doesn't mean the prompt isn't challenging. You will need to make sure you are presenting the chosen location effectively.

The tips below can help:

Choosing a "Place or Environment":

Step one in tackling this prompt is coming up with "a place or environment where you are perfectly content." You have a lot of latitude here--you can write about any specific location on the globe ("a place"), or you can be less focused and discuss the type of surroundings ("environment") that brings you contentedness. The place can be small or large, inside or outside, commonplace or extraordinary. You could also bend the question to explore imagined places--locations accessible only through your imagination.

As you brainstorm this essay prompt, think broadly about the place or environment you are going to discuss. Your options include:

  • A building: Your house, church, school, tree fort, or grandma's home. A store, movie theater, café, restaurant, fitness club...
  • An interior space: your bedroom, the secret room under the stairs, your science classroom, the locker room, your aunt's kitchen, the shower, the driver's seat of your favorite car...
  • An exterior space: the woods, the ocean, the lake, a city street, a rooftop, a meadow in bloom, the dessert at night...
  • A travel destination: Machu Picchu, the San Diego Zoo, the top of Mount Washington, the Avenue des Champs-Élysées, a food market in Shanghai, a tent in the Bad Lands...
  • A performance or athletic venue: the stage of a concert hall, a tennis court, the football field, the shoulder of the road on a bike, the theater...
  • An imagined place: the world portrayed in a painting, J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle Earth, Diagon Alley, the Star Ship Enterprise, Jane Austen's England, Downton Abbey...

The list could be much, much longer, and please don't let these limited suggestions steer you away from your own place of contentedness.

What Does "Perfectly Content" Mean?:

Many have interpreted this question to be asking about a place where they are at peace. Indeed, that is one way to read the question, and being in a peaceful state is one type of content state.

But the word "content" can mean much more than a state of peacefulness. It is also a state of satisfaction, and you don't need to be peaceful to be satisfied. An adrenaline junkie might be most content when skydiving, and a musician might be most content when performing a solo to a standing-room-only crowd. These high pressure situations can be magical, meaningful and "content" moments, but they are not peaceful.

Be Careful When You "Describe":

Always keep in mind that the essay is meant to tell more about yourself, and for you to demonstrate your ability to tell a story about yourself. The first task asked of you "Describe a place or environment" -- is also the least challenging part of the question. Describing, unlike analyzing, is a pretty low level form of thinking. This part of the essay has no self-analysis or introspection, so it is not saying much about you, your passions, or how well your mind works. Because of this, don't spend too many words describing. Be clear, concise, and engaging as you describe the place you have chosen, but then move on. The description should not be the bulk of your essay.

The "What" and the "Why":

The end of the prompt is most important. The question is asking you why you feel and act the way you do in your special place. Why is this place or environment meaningful to you? Dig deep. A shallow response isn't going to impress anyone. Someone who writes "I'm most content on the soccer field because I've always loved soccer" hasn't really answered the question. Why do you love soccer? Are you a competitive person? Do you like the teamwork? Does soccer help you escape from other parts of your life? Does it make you a better person? How has your time on the soccer field made you grow? What exactly makes the soccer field so full of meaning for you?

A final note: If you really explore the "why" of this question and go easy on the describing, your essay will be on track to succeed. It might help to rethink the prompt in these terms: "Tell us about a place that is meaningful to you so that we can get to know you better."

Last of all; be certain to pay close attention to style, tone, and mechanics. 

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