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INTOTHEBEST, Inc. Scholarship Semifinalist Chris Murphy

Congratulations to Chris Murphy from Creekview High School
Chris Murphy
It was difficult selecting 8 semifinalists from 1,500 applications. There were many strong essays.

Chris's Essay:

Popularity is something that fades in and out just like the Macarena, or POGs. A person can be at the top of his or her social scene one day, and become invisible to the eyes of his or her peers the next. Doing what will make a person well liked by those around him or her is a temporary solution to the universal problem that exists within every human: fitting in. Aristotle was once quoted as saying, "Man is by human nature a social animal." The desire for popularity can cause a person to take drastic actions to accomplish. I cannot say I haven't done anything I normally wouldn't do to fit in with a crowd I perceived as cool before. For instance, I began my freshman year on the swim team at my school. I was a wide-eyed, scared, and quiet boy; when I observed the older guys I could not think of any other group of people that I wanted to hang out with and be friends with. As a part of what they called "initiation," I ran a lap around the track in only a Speedo in the dead of winter. It gave everyone who witnessed it a good laugh, and I thought I was fitting in. However, with time comes wisdom and although my journey in life has just begun, I now know that being respected is a far better quality to have than to be well liked.

A person who is respected is not necessarily one who is everyone's favorite person, but when the time comes that a group of people make a decision that will affect the masses it is someone who is respected that will greatly influence everyone's decision. With respect, comes natural leadership. This is a quality that will benefit a person far more than being well liked in life. Being well liked does have its advantages, but respect carries with it much more dignity. A person can be well liked for both right and wrong reasons. For example, a girl in my class at school is one of the nicest people I have ever met; she has no people that know her that dislike her. But, drug dealers are well liked by those they supply with illegal narcotics. Both of these examples are of people who are well liked. Being respected can only be for good reason. Integrity, pride, honesty, and wisdom all contribute to the respect a person has from those around him or her.

In high school, the amount of respect a person has and whether or not he or she is well liked cannot even be compared on the same scale. Youth in high school are at a pivotal point in their lives. We are struggling to grapple with who we are, and the conclusions we reach shape our character as to what kind of person we will become in life. People in high school are searching for a group of people they perceive as cool; they imitate others and shape their decisions around what they think others will want them to do. A person who stands up for what he or she believes in typically would not receive much respect by his or her peers, unless they were mature enough to recognize the amount of courage and integrity it takes for someone to do that. Teachers, who are adults and serve to both educate and be a good influence on students, would recognize and respect a student who did something such as turning in someone to crime stoppers for having drugs on campus.

The choice a person makes regarding whether to be liked or well respected is based on their maturity and sense of self security. If a person is comfortable with who he or she is, being liked is not a primary concern of theirs because they have the wisdom to know that if his or her peers do not like them for who they truly are, then they aren't true friends. While almost catching frost bite while running with a Speedo on may prompt a few laughs and temporary popularity from a person's peers, it carries with it no respect. With the experience I have gained through my high school career I know that I would rather be looked upon as a leader who is respected instead of the guy who ran a lap close to naked to fit in with a group of people that probably forgot about it a week after it happened.

How IntotheBest's Essay Advice Helped Chris

What I learned for INTOTHEBEST's "Essay Advice" section:

After reading the advice given on INTOTHEBEST.com, I noticed several flaws present in not only this essay, but others I have completed for college applications and scholarships as well. My major problem was assuming that the reader knew what I was talking about. The example of writing tailored to a person from outer space who knew nothing about humans was especially helpful for this. I went back through my essay keeping this in mind the whole time. I also revised some thoughts that were somewhat confusing so that they could be better understood by the readers. Overall the advice was helpful in catching the little errors I was making in my writing. It was the kind of advice that can make a good essay into a great one.

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