Personal Essay: Pillar of Strength


Hi guys. I promised a friend of mine that I’d post this up on my blog. Although the original idea was to post this up after I receive my UPenn results (coming up this March 28), I figured there’s no wrong in posting this up now. It’s the essay that I wrote for my UPenn application. The question was “Indicate a person who has had a significant influence on you, and describe that influence.

This wasn’t my first draft, of course. It has been edited a few times, thanks to comments and critiques from my awesome editor, Khairul Nazran. And I may have gotten the facts wrong somewhere, since I’ve kinda forgot the exact details. So, here you go.


When some of my friends ignored me, he told me to let it go. He said, “When you’re no longer there with them, they’d realize how important you were.

When my parents forced me to move to a new school, he was there to listen to me cry. He said, “Don’t worry; I’m sure they did the best decision for you.

When I was feeling torn apart between my study options, he called me from London to help me decide. He said, “List down all the possibilities and how it would benefit you in the future. The decision will come naturally.

I have always wondered how he would know exactly what to say at the right moment. There was something about him that made him special to me, even after the rough break-up we went through in 2010. He was always so calm, accepting everything that happened and somehow managed to overcome the problems effortlessly.

Our relationship might have lasted a mere nine months, but in the short period I knew him, he showed me how appreciation, strength and acceptance could go a long way. He was from a broken family. His parents, now divorced, can barely be in the same room without bickering. His father, remarried to another woman, had two other children whom receive more attention and love than his siblings. But instead of complaining about his family’s history, he told me about how it helped him to become the person he is now. He was strong enough to accept the fact that his family will never be the same, and strong enough to move on.

I felt ashamed whenever I talked to him. I was always complaining about the unfairness in everything, about my insignificant problems. I was the one with the happy family; I was the one with two loving parents, and yet, I didn’t appreciate the things that I have.

He made me realized how lucky I was. To have the opportunity to study in an international school, to have friends from all over the world, to have a loving and caring family, to have a great circle of people who care for me. I was oblivious to these facts before, but now I’m not. I’m wide awake.

I learnt to appreciate the people that I have in my life, especially my parents and my brothers. I started to open up my heart to other people, to love and care for them as much as they have done for me. I allowed myself to regret the past, but strong enough to accept it and move on with my life. I started to forgive, not only the mistakes of other people, but also myself for the mistakes that I have done in the past.

I used to be the emotional little girl who never cared about other people’s feelings. But, thanks to him, I became a stronger person, one who cares about other people. Every time I look at him, I’d see my pillar of strength.

(ps No copying allowed. This essay is solely for guidance and example only. If you wanna share it on your blog or website, please link it back to this blog, thank you)

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