elihu's college essay 2023


last month i applied to brooklyn college for ungrad creative writing. don't know yet if i got in. here's the essay i sent them:

 The first time I went to college I knew it wasn't going to stick. I wasn't much older than my classmates and I still felt like they were living in a different world. I was living off campus in a big house with my friends. I was the only student there. I was making music everyday and my roommates were throwing shows in the basement. Hundreds of kids would come, and the cops would come too, and then they would all leave. In the morning I would go sit in freshman English with kids who were living independently for the first time in their life. They mostly weren't my friends. They were concerned with how they presented themselves, more than they were with schoolwork. I felt jealous of their community. I watched from the outside but it was inaccessible to me. I was jealous of my roommates also. I spent the year in two parallel lives.
 The last time I wrote a college essay it seemed like I had a lot of explaining to do. After dropping out of high school I spent a few years working in restaurants without any goals or much of a plan. My mental was worlds better than it had been when I finally quit-officially-before my senior year, but I had to blow up my entire life to get it there. I wasn't applying to college because I was excited about it. I just had this idea that if I waited any longer, it was going to get harder. I thought of it as one last shot at traditional education. I only applied to one school and I didn't tell anyone but my parents what I was doing. I told myself that I was just trying it out. It was a bargain I made internally: if I didn't like school after a year, I was done.
 The whole thing wasn't easy. I worked really hard that year, harder than I ever had in high school. If I'm being honest though, my attention was elsewhere. I booked a tour that winter with some friends from South Carolina, and I skipped a week of class in the spring to play a run of shows with a band from New York. I designed and pressed seven-inch records, started a new band, and wrote an album. I tried my best to turn in songs as homework assignments. When the semester ended I left for another tour and never went back to college.
 It's not like I was making money playing shows. I was singing mostly in people's basements, hoping I could sell enough t-shirts after my set to break even. Looking back the whole thing seems sort of crazy, but at the time it felt like everyone I knew was doing this regularly. I was the only one doing it by myself, putting thousands of solo miles on my Honda Accord in a weekend. I made a lot of friends in far flung places. Still, it was very lonely. In 2019 I moved to Brooklyn and told myself I would never tour like that again-"everyone blows up online now, anyways.""
 Not me. I'm still working hard, making the music I love and connecting with people through it, but I don't think it's going to change my life anymore. Despite that newfound realism, I'm content in lots of ways I never have been before. I have regular work in kitchens with people who I like and who like me. I'm in love. I listen to new bands and try to make as much time for reading as possible. I feel like I've got less to explain away than the last time I applied to school. I just want something different in my life. I think that I'm ready for something new.

-Elihu Jones, January 2023