Elizabeth Watson

The college essay that got me admitted to Yale was about a parking lot. I thought I was a fucking genius. I was participating in the highest art form of 16-year-old bullshit—the weak-ass, stupid-ass, seemingly-everyone-can-read-right-through-this-except-for-the admissions-officer-who’s-admitting-me-ass metaphor.

Newsflash: I wasn’t the only one. To my utter surprise and amusement, it seems as though lots of 16- and 17-year-olds are just as self-important as me? And like to dramatize their series of faux teenage hardships? Radical.

And now, all of the self-important, faux-intellectual 16- and 17-year-olds are the present-day, burnt out, alcoholic Yalies. And pretty soon, a lot more, littler self-important, faux-intellectuals will be coming to campus to participate in a giant celebration of faux-intellectualism — what we like to call “Bulldog Days.” And all of these little self-important, faux-intellectuals will have very loud conversations about their faux-intellectualism that has given them very unfaux superiority complexes, so much so that they feel the need to come to Yale’s celebration of faux-intellectualism despite already committing to Harvard’s shit show of faux-intellectualism on steroids.

Anyways, I think there’s no better time to issue a giant “FUCK YOU!” to all of these little faux-intellectuals. And there’s no better way to issue that “fuck you” than rewriting my common app essay for the truth of it. 

I won’t bore you with all the details, so I’ve sourced a couple notable moments that deserved to be rewritten.

The Submitted Opening: 

Parking lots remind me a lot of myself. Seems like an odd thing to say considering I’m paralleling my entire existence to an empty, paved plot of land distinguished by spray-paint lines and spaces, but I’ve found significance in my metaphorically literal parking lot life. My most memorable moments, those filled with melancholy ecstasy, have taken place in parking lots. I fell in love in a parking lot. I cried publicly for the first time in a parking lot. I learned my father had cancer in a parking lot, but I also met him for the first time cancer-free in a parking lot. I’ve spent a lot of my time in parking lots. Sometimes I listen to other people spill life’s burdens. Since I got my license a few months ago, my parked car has become a safe haven where the brokenhearted seek refuge. Sometimes I sit in my car for hours and read poetry. Sometimes I’m just waiting for someone. But occasionally, I’ll look up and silently observe the people coming and going.

What It Would Say If I Just Told the Truth:

Dude I sit and cry in my car a lot. People suck. I said I fell in love in a parking lot, but that’s fucking false. I was “dating” this 17-year-old little man for five minutes, and he broke up with me the day I had my first public speaking event, and I went and cried in the bathroom in the middle of biology.

Also when people talk to me, I don’t listen. I just ask them to sit in my car because I’m perpetually freezing, and if it’s my car, no one can tell me anything about the heat setting being on max because it’s my gas being used that my dad is paying for.

And yeah — no shot at the silent observation thing. I hate being alone. If I sit alone for more than 26 seconds, I call my mom and start crying. I’m a narcissist. Nobody else matters to me.

The Submitted Middle:

You see, a parking lot does house my life’s timeline — its finest and weakest moments — but in the most figurative, intangible sense, it’s a metaphor for my life’s pivotal intersection point.

I don’t belong where I am. My academic and personal and religious pursuits never align with who I’m supposed to be; I passionately crave something the closest people to me can’t conceive. Pursuing the humanities and activism to my immigrant parents, to my closed community, seems completely contradictory in nature to the lives they’ve constructed for themselves and for me. My parents have dedicated their adulthood to ensuring I’m exposed to every opportunity that makes pursuing a stable, successful career in STEM both possible and probable. While I’m fully aware of that sacrifice, I’m choosing a completely different course of life. I’m an intersectional feminist in a community that instructs me in servitude. I’m defined by my penchant for pathos reflected in my writing, reflected in my activism, reflected in my routine philosophical conversations, in a family defined by concrete sequentialism and numbers.

What It Would Say If I Just Told the Truth:

You have no idea the mental fuckery brown parents have up their sleeves. Oh my God. I didn’t talk to my dad for a year because I said I didn’t want to go to medical school. Life honestly isn’t even worth it.

Also give me a sticker because I’m not a self-hating woman.

Also sequentialism is a word I fucking made up and the Admissions Office bought it.

The Submitted End:

I remember all the times my father yelled at me for keeping my car light on. He always said it would kill the battery, but it hasn’t yet. My fuse hasn’t burned out — not for my personal attachment to my community nor my passion for what I believe in. It’s true, a lot of sparkling moments and memories that comprise my life have taken place in a parking lot. In fact, I wrote this essay in my favorite parking lot, the light flickering overhead, illuminating the place I fell in love, the place I first cried in public, the place I spent hours reading poetry until the sun set. And just like I’m anchored to the sentiment of that parking lot, I’m grounded in my family, culture, and community that have undoubtedly become an integral part of me. But it’s time for me to leave behind my parking lot life. The parking lot, with all its emotion, with all its wanderlust, isn’t where I’m supposed to be anymore. It’s time for me to go, where I belong.

What It Would Say If I Just Told the Truth:

Who the FUCK has a favorite parking lot??? And what prompts an admissions officer to say, “Yes. This human being is stable” after they hear that a person has a favorite parking lot??? I would be like: “This bitch is delusional.” Dude — hours reading poetry until the sun sets??? Is that not the biggest red flag ever? That screams “this bitch has no fucking friends.”

Also in case you were wondering, my fuse has burned out. And I want my fucking parking lot life back. I don’t even know what a parking lot life is.

But just like everybody else at this damn school, I did, in fact, peak in high school.