Kondo's 'Guide to Essay Writing'

It's that time of year for seniors - college application season. College applications are many things, one of which is not easy. Speaking from experience, they're a bit of a chore - sort of like cleaning my room, with added importance, of course.

My room appears as if a hurricane spiraled through, with piles of laundry, snacks and my dog's footprints. I ignore my mom's texts to tidy up until she pounds on my door. I hear a constant knocking these days, reminding me to get going on a deadline.

I respond to the knocks by picking up one piece of laundry, but the pile seems just as large as before. This is how it feels to complete an essay or part of one. One supplemental may be done but four more await.

On other days (not often), I find myself in a cleaning mood. I play Eric Church's "Three Year Old" and am ready with vacuum in hand. The mountainous pile disappears for the day, and I rediscover my floor's golden-brown coloring. I have similar days of writing, when words and ideas flow and twirl onto the page with ease. I love that flow-state.

After I've gone through my cleaning frenzy, I lose my phone despite my bed's pristine folds and my organized books. Where is my phone? I just had it. Where did I put it? It must be in a special place.

It is like searching desperately for a word. Looking, looking, looking, until, aha! I find the word or phrase that describes my thoughts perfectly and allows me to keep typing.

Once cleaned, my room requires maintenance. I feel like Sisyphus, always pushing a rock up a hill and never reaching the top. After one cross country practice or day at school, the hurricane returns. My dirty uniform - with its less than pleasant odors - is strewn across the floor. It's like how essays are never truly finished. A few days out from the Nov. 1 deadline and I've made more changes than I can count. Poor word-choice and grammatical errors appear out of thin air.

We put so much pressure on ourselves for that perfect tidy room or that captivating essay. I know that in reality, these are a few pages of a long novel. I will find a school that fits just right, maybe even one with a course on Marie Kondo's secrets to cleaning. I look forward to the days when my mom's knocking on my door stops. Or do I?

In the meantime, I've got more essays to write.

- Isabella Terry, a senior at Hinsdale Central High School, is a contributing columnist. Readers can email her at [email protected].