Losing Myself

Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.

When I tell people I work at the library, they often respond with open jaws and comments ranging from, “Oh my gosh—dream job!” to, “That must be boring, huh?” While the tasks are routine, each shift jostles my curiosity awake.

To be clear, I am not a librarian; I’ve never lowered my glasses and glared at someone, croaking, “Use an inside voice!” My job is to dump returned books onto a cart, organize them alphabetically, and restore them to their appropriate spots in the library. It’s a relatively mindless job; keeping the cart’s squeakiness to a minimum is the most serious challenge I’ve faced thus far. But mindlessness is useful: it provokes boredom, and from boredom comes thinking. I think about the productive things I could be doing if I weren’t pushing this cart. I think about the future and current events. I think about what each page contains. Most of them mean nothing to me—cookbooks, SAT study guides, and James Patterson’s endless array of novels. But every once in awhile I stumble upon something that intrigues me.
And so it went last night. As I sifted through adult fiction, I noticed that the spine of one book felt fresh compared to the others, without crease, indicating no previous use. I grabbed it from the cart and...

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