I haven’t done a more personal post in a while, and was inspired to share this story after participating in a fun Facebook group thread. In one of my running groups, someone posted an image that read: “Tell me something about yourself that sounds totally made up, but is 100% true.”
There was all kinds of crazy, funny, and inspiring stuff:
“I thought Alaska was an island until I was 19 years old! 😳😬Disclaimer I was from Hawaii & every time they showed a map, Alaska was off by itself like Hawaii 🤣🤣🤣”
“Stepped on a sewing needle at age 7. No one believed me. Broke my big toe and found out still have a needle in my foot at 23. It’s still in there at age 37. No need to take it out now. 😂”
“I rode a bicycle from Baltimore MD to San Francisco CA.”
“I donated 110 pounds of breast milk for premature and critically ill babies!”
“When I was little my sister fed me June bugs and told me they were pinto beans 😐”
My response: I wrote my college essay about having to poop during a run (and got into a college with a 14% acceptance rate 😂😂)
One of the group members replied and said she wished she could read it, and I realized that I’d never shared the essay in a post. So, while we’re facing a daily barrage of scary and tragic news, I wanted to tell an old story of mine that will hopefully make you laugh.
I Wrote My College Essay About Needing to Poop During a Long Run
A little background: I applied to college in 2013, nearly 7 years ago (wow, it doesn’t feel like it was *that* long ago, but it also seems like ages ago).
Running has been a huge part of my identity since middle school, and I knew I wanted to highlight running somewhere in my application—and there was no better place to do that than in the Common App essay, which goes to every school you apply to.
Here’s the prompt and essay. I will warn you that I had a very flowery and dramatic writing style, so prepare for some cringe-worthy moments haha.
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.
Mile five. I sensed the all-too-familiar, uncomfortable feeling in the pit of my stomach. Rhythmic footsteps filled my ears as I inhaled the cool country air. Quaint farmhouses and swaying cornstalks peppered the landscape, creating a bucolic scene so picturesque and cathartic—ideal for a long run. The misty morning sun peeked through the lush green leaves of the trees lining the stretching rural road. All this wasn’t enough of a distraction.
I let out a frustrated groan. “Tessa, I really have to poop.”
My running buddy laughed. “Lily, no. Not today!”
I sighed in agreement. No, not today. It was long run day, we were in the middle of nowhere at cross country camp, and we were determined to run eleven miles—without stopping. But after several more painful strides, my body triumphed over my mind.
“I have to stop at the general store to use the bathroom,” I announced, defeated.
The pang in my stomach paled in comparison to the one in my heart. Not even halfway through our run, I had surrendered to the primary opponent of my sport: ephemeral physical pain. We sank into resigned silence as I thought pensively. But as we neared the general store, my ardent decision pierced the stillness.
“No. I can’t do this. I can’t stop to go to the bathroom. I’ve got to be tough!”
I recalled the wise words of the camp founder on our first day. “These cabins aren’t college dorms for a reason,” he proclaimed, “To do cross country, you have to be tough. And that’s why we have these conditions.” I felt ashamed of my disgust at the musty, dim, cramped, allegedly mice-infested cabins. At the dingy showers and unpredictable cafeteria food. I was humbled. I had perhaps been spoiled by the suburbs, never having left their comforts for a true camping experience. And if these stark conditions made me a better runner, then I would endure them enthusiastically.
Mile six. My stomach adamantly protested as we veered past the general store, but I had crossed the Rubicon, the point of no return. There wasn’t another restroom en route to the campsite. I had no choice but to defeat my Pompey and conquer my Rome.
I distracted myself from my discomfort with thoughts. Thoughts of how liberating the open countryside felt. Of how ambitious we were in tackling eleven miles when many other girls had settled for fewer. But most of all, of how running uncannily resembled life. Performance only improved with sweat. Daunting races became manageable when approached in pieces. A tough mentality meant everything. With each thought, I didn’t feel so bad anymore. It was funny how quickly discomfort subsided with just a little tenacity.
Mile twelve-point-five—roughly. I glanced at my watch. One hour, fifty-five minutes. We had surpassed our goal, but I hungered for more. When would I get the chance to run two hours straight again? I convinced a begrudging Tessa to run for another five minutes. Our voracious stomachs grumbled at the enticing scents wafting from the dining hall. We turned the opposite direction. We would be tough.
Mile thirteen. I sighed with relief as my watch finally read two hours. Our steady gait ceased to exhausted steps.
“Lily, we just ran a half marathon. I’m going to kill you,” Tessa declared indignantly. But her smile gave it all away.
I laughed. “Tessa, if we can run thirteen miles straight, what can’t we do?”
Four years ago, I couldn’t run a mile—the very thought of running used to intimidate me. But here I was now. Bathed in the mid-morning sun, I inhaled deeply and contentedly. It was long run day, I was in the middle of nowhere at cross country camp, and I had just run thirteen miles.
I am a runner, and I am unstoppable.
Me and Tessa—not during the infamous long run, but during our first official half marathon the following spring
Looking Back at the “Poop Essay”
At the time, I was worried that my essay would be too risky or weird, but I also felt that it showcased my quirky personality really well. I remember declaring something along the lines of “If the colleges don’t want me—poop and all—then I don’t want them! It probably wasn’t a good fit anyways.” (I was such a hard-headed teenager).
Today, as a recent college grad, my essay makes me cringe and laugh (cue the crying-laughing emoji). I can’t believe how cheesy and melodramatic I was. At the same time, I still believe the essay is a good snapshot of who I was at the time, and I like to think I still have some of that quirkiness today (or maybe still a lot of it…).
As a final funny story, Amherst College (the school I ended up going to) actually does an annual performance called the New Voices of the Class, where upperclassmen take excerpts from the essays of the incoming class, and turn it into a series of comedy skits. I’m very proud to say that “I really have to poop” made the cut in my year.
I hope you enjoyed this interlude from my regular SEO-optimized content, and I’d love to hear from you: Tell me something about yourself that sounds totally made up, but is 100% true.
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