Warrior Words: Intersecting voices

“Try something new!”

“How are apples and oranges meant to be compared?”

“You’ve woken up in a foreign jail — why?”

Ah, yes — the glory of college application questions. From the dull to the dazzling, they beckon us students to spill out our personalities onto the page, squeezing our high school careers into a brief 500-word summary. “But be careful not to summarize!” insist our English teachers, as they help us to pin down one of the floating tendrils of our thoughts and craft it into an exciting two paragraphs. “But you don’t have to be too exciting!” advise the college admissions officers, who confess that their favorite essays discussed students’ reflections while thoughtfully mowing the lawn or nostalgically contemplating the color orange. “But don’t be too weird!” warn my parents as they hover over the armchair by the computer — “you don’t want to come across as too crazy.”

It seems that the advice on how to write the ideal college essay varies completely from person to person. No one agrees, and while this is at first confusing, I think in the end this diversity of opinion can be of great benefit to next year’s applicants. We are all different people, so it makes sense that we answer our college prompts in distinctive ways.

And with that in mind, I challenge you, the reader, to contemplate life’s most intriguing prompt:

What is the meaning of life?

Question my piano teacher and he might say, “a flawless performance.” Interview my athletic friend — “rowing, of course.” Ask a droll Douglas Adams fan like me — “42.”

Philosophers have gone to ideological war over this enchantingly puzzling question, with thousands of books penned, endless odes composed, and restless minds racked for the elusive answer.

But no matter the argument, humans will believe in their own versions of the universal truth.

College essays are just one facet of this diversity. There is no “best” way to write about yourself, because your life’s meaning is so much more than a 500-word essay. We must be brave enough to break free from the restrictive mold of The Single Answer, for the most exciting questions often have infinite interpretations. We must be humble enough to appreciate the multiplicity of human thought, but bold enough to dream a million dreams instead of one.

And so my personal answer to this central philosophical question is silence. For in this context, nothing means everything. Silence admits that my own beliefs are but tiny brushstrokes in the ever-growing masterpiece of the human story, cradling the idea that there should be no single opinion held by mankind. We can move forward only by weaving together the vast multitude of our wonderfully different ideas — to forge the future from the strength of our intersecting voices.

Chase Smith is a senior at Wilton High School.