It is hard to write about yourself. The college essay often asks you to describe who you are, and what is most important to you. Those are tough questions, for anyone.
It’s like someone asking you to pick your favorite color. Maybe you really like red, but not all shades of red. And even though you like it a lot, you also have other colors you really love. So how do you answer? “I think I like red, sometimes, don’t you?” No. Way too wishy-washy. Instead, make the statement as though it were the truth. “My favorite color is red.” Then, if you need to, you can qualify your statement later.
When you write these personal essays, you need to write with authority. Even though you might have huge doubts or uncertainly about your answers (life is gray!), you must assert yourself and your opinions with confidence.
The trick is to use strong, simple statements. Natalie Goldberg, author of “Writing Down the Bones,” describes it this way:
“The world isn’t always black and white. A person may not be sure if she can go some place, but it is important, especially for a beginning writer, to make clear, assertive statements. ‘This is good.’ ‘It was a blue horse.’ Not “Well, I know it sounds funny, but I think perhaps it was a blue horse.’ Making statements is practice in trusting your own mind, in learning to stand up with your thoughts.”
TIP: One way to strengthen your writing is to avoid “indefinite modifiers,” such as perhaps, maybe, somehow, almost, really, very, etc.