I applied for my MBA program 13 years ago. This past weekend, I was cleaning my files and found my long-lost application essay to Stanford Business School. I didn’t get in. But, I loved this essay then and I love it now. I forgot all about it. And, here it is word for word…
There are many adjectives that can be used to describe you. Choose one, and provide a personal anecdote or professional experience that illustrates its meaning.
Many people who know me well would have various words to describe me. A former girlfriend has said that I am a combination of Charlie Brown and Jack Tripper. My mom would probably describe me as wonderful. My best friend would probably use the adjective hyper-sensitive. My gas pedal would most likely say I was impatient. But when I think of a word to describe me, the word screwball comes to mind.
Don’t get me wrong! I am very serious about my professional career and can solicit a large gift from the most apprehensive of prospects. I accept my job as a non-profit fundraiser as a crucial element in addressing the university’s budget crisis. But, you see, one of my heroines is Lucille Ball. I admire her comedic reactions because I often find myself in similar unbelievable situations. And I do not even try to be Charlie Brown or Jack Tripper. For example, one day about a year ago I went to the grocery store to replenish my refrigerator. While I was parked, a swarm (well, about six) wasps had flown into the back of my car. I returned and started driving home. All of a sudden they attacked me. While I was swatting them, I sideswiped a bus stop sign and knocked off my side mirror. Two days later I drove to the dealership for a replacement mirror. A large trailer truck was unloading cars and I backed into a new parking space. In the process, I upset a fire hydrant. After a loud thud, I looked into the rear view mirror to see Old Faithful gushing upwards. I know this scenario sounds like the script for a bad situation comedy but it actually happened!
My point is that I feel the lighter side of life is necessary in day-to-day existence. A famous magazine describes “laughter as the best medicine” and I agree. One of the people at whom I laugh most is myself. When my filing cabinet toppled on top of me one day in my office and I was in pain, I laughed. I wanted to send a message to my colleagues that all was well. Like screwball Lucy, I will sometimes wear a crazy costume or disguise but mostly to the extent of wearing a tacky tie to work. I probably will not name my child Little Ricky nor will I play a bad version of “Glow Worm” on the saxophone. Most likely, I will never socialize with a married couple named Fred and Ethel. However, I plan to approach all my endeavors with the utmost good intentions and, most importantly, an underlying sense of humor to get me through the low points. This is how my heroine, the screwball, approached every episode of “I Love Lucy.”
In the complex world in which we live, with all its pressures and problems, a sense of humor has never been more important. There are many reasons for us to hurt, but when we watch Lucy, we laugh. When I die, I want people to remember me for all my accomplishments, friendship, sincerity, and my love of life — but, most of all, I want to be remembered just as we remember Lucy. As a screwball. God rest her soul.
I didn’t get into Stanford Business School. But, it doesn’t really matter, does it? My words still resonate with me 13 years later. That’s something I never expected when I originally wrote this piece.