Advanced Essay #1: Decisions and Journeys


Throughout the process of crafting this essay, I learned the value of concise and descriptive writing. Prior to this paper, I firmly believed that strong descriptive writing was the key to a successful essay, and that it was necessary to sacrifice all other criteria (such as the word count) in favor of it. My perspective on revising my writing has changed, as I now see that the removal of excess description is not done solely in the interest of meeting the word count. It also serves to increase the overall quality of the final product. Even if the words paint a beautiful image, the essay might still be so abstract that it only holds meaning to the painter. This is the goal of my personal essay: to communicate a concept, experience, or lesson to the readers, and to push myself to improve my writing skills instead of masking an average paper with excessive decorations.

Decisions and Journeys

Taking action, making a decision and acting upon it, can feel impossible at times. I remember a time when indecision and not taking action took me far from home.

It started as I stood at the platform in 30th Street Station, the crowd bustling about. The loudspeakers burst to life, bellowing out the name of the train I was eagerly awaiting. A train pulled up to the platform, and I followed the boisterous crowd aboard, plopping down on a half-occupied two-seater. I sat with a man who stood up two stops later, announced he no longer needed his all-day pass, and abandoned it on the train.

When the following stop was announced, I felt the first inkling of uncertainty. The station names were unfamiliar, and I did not recognize the somewhat familiar faces I usually saw on my way home. With each passing stop, I argued with myself: should I ask what train I was on? Or could I be on the right one? I made up reasons why scenery I passed was so different: “It’s incredible,” I marveled, “I must pass these trees and houses daily, yet only now am I truly seeing them!”

I spent a few more stops debating whether or not I should ask which train I was on, getting further and further from home, trapped in indecision. Before I could ask anyone the name of the train line, it came to a halt at its final destination: Trenton.

My heart pounded with the speed of the roadrunner and the force of a hydraulic press, but then my panic was disrupted as I recalled the discarded all-day pass. Saved! I used the pass to travel back to 30th Street Station, and then home.

Would I find taking action easier in the future? I soon had an opportunity to put that to the test. I had the chance to have my nose pierced. Should I do it? Would it hurt? Would I regret it? This time, perhaps strengthened by previous experiences of acting or not acting, I was ready to take action.

My journey began on South Street, inside the back room of Infinite Piercing. I hopped up onto a table exactly like one that you might find in a doctor’s office… a sturdy wooden frame topped with an oblong, pine green, pleather cushion. It took up most of the room, and was set dead-center, as if it were a stage. My mom sat down in the chair on the right side of the door. The person who was to do my piercing closed the door behind us. The person wiped down my nose with a cool cloth and it felt as if my nose felt like it was trapped inside a closed tupperware container full of hand sanitizer. Then came the piercing. Suddenly, a peculiar sensation started at a single point on my nose. The feeling was like a tiny sparkler. It was pain.

“Yep. There is a needle in my nose. A needle is going through my nose,” my brain stated matter-of-factly. The rest of my face melted away. It was as if my consciousness was a duck, and my awareness of everything except my face was water flowing off of the duck’s back.

And in that moment, I was witness to a bizarre phenomenon; a rare exception to what would generally be considered a faux pas. There was a stranger’s finger in my nose.

Then it was done.

I looked in the mirror, and for the first time in a while, I liked my face. Taking action had brought me closer to home, to feeling like myself.

Ultimately, decisions result in action. Whether positive or negative, actions have consequences and result in experience. I am beginning to trust my ability to make decisions based on a gut instinct. On the train, I froze and ignored my own misgivings, my inaction taking me away from my destination, my home. On the green table at Infinite Piercing, I trusted my ability to make a decision, and my action took my toward my destination, self-confidence. Whether it’s a train to get home or a nose piercing to feel more at home in myself, I am learning to navigate my existence on many levels.