My Personal Statements

Please read the disclaimer. Written as part of my application to Notre dame. 1995 or very early 1996

Naturally, this statement must be written. It is part of my application, and an unfinished application is worth as much as no application. I have no choice but to reveal as much of my personality, personal opinions, behavioral patterns, et cetera, as possible. It would be ideal to have Freud here to give me a complete psycho-analysis. But, great minds of the past remain in the past, and, without time travel, I remain in the present. Therefore, I must psychoanalyze myself.

This statement is — when you finish reading it you might laugh — very well thought out. I have spent plenty of time writing and revising this statement. I have had teachers proofread it for me, and they have told me that you will think I am insane. Now that is quite possible, but I ask you not to come to that conclusion. The reason I still submit this to you is that I believe presenting myself to you in this way is worth the risk. Also, I believe that taking the risk will only add to my personal statement. So, here is my presentation:

My mind is physically quite small, and yet, there are vast amounts of knowledge and feelings inside it. Since my mind doesn't have tangible boundaries, describing it physically will not aid my cause. Similarly, the absence of a limit to the amount of knowledge I want and can store also shows that a simple essay will not describe me completely. There is always more. Thus, I could continue to write this statement until all eternity. My dilemma: This statement cannot be too long, because you, the reader, have many more statements to read, so you cannot spend too much time pondering mine. I must, therefore, find a way of limiting this statement. But, first, I must describe myself.

Myself: Peter Rijks. Peter, the stone, I am named so after my dad's father. Rijks, my dad's last name, Dutch for kingdom, land, country. There is more to my name than trying to eternalize my forebears. To some people, maybe I am a rock. I must live up to my name, I must be a pillar which friends can lean against. Rijks: kingdom, land; it is my loves, if you look at it from the right perspective. I love Colorado, the diversity, the wildlife, the mountains, the valleys, the plains, the people. I love honest, incorruptible government (I am not implying that we have one). I am a man of the Rijks.

There is more to me than my name. I yearn for knowledge. I am constantly taking things apart, playing with little mechanical toys, trying to figure out how the world works. I read a lot. Reading is very important to me. I like independence. I want to be able to do things. I don't want to have to depend on others. I like people, but I want to know that I will be able to survive on my own. I am unpredictable. I will never just leave and go to India, or suddenly decide that I would like to sit on the ground and make weird noises with my little finger and big toe. I keep my promises, I stick with my responsibilities. But, when pondering the fate of the world or the wiring of a walkman, I can suddenly come up with interesting ideas that I must immediately share with someone. One of the most frequent things I hear besides "Hi, Peter," or "How is your computer, Peter," is "That was random." These traits, my curiosity, independence, and my unpredictability, remind me of a cat.

Rather than compare myself to a cat, people suggested I compare myself to a timber wolf, a mountain lion, an ocelot, or other wild animals. They said I was deeper than just a cat. But how can you measure the depth of a cat? Who knows, maybe stick a yardstick down its throat. Does a mountain lion have a bigger mouth, longer throat, making it deeper? Maybe. Then again, maybe I shouldn't compare myself to animals. After all, I do have an opposable thumb which I can twiddle with its counterpart when I am bored. But is my opposable thumb all that distinguishes me from "lesser beings"? Or is there something inside my head that adds to this phenomena we call human life. I can use a TV remote and type 50 words a minute. Is this special? Or does it go even deeper, past my basic motor skills, past my ability to be bored? I can write about my own personality. This is meta-thinking (thinking about thinking). Does our human ability to meta-think mean anything special? I can think about myself. I can think about myself thinking. I can even meta-meta-think. I can think about myself meta-meta-think. Does this large collection of metas and thoughts lead me anywhere? Or do I just say "Hey, I can meta-meta-meta-meta-meta-think, so please let me into your beautiful college." Information is only valuable if I can use it. And use it I do. To ponder the problems of modern society, the house of representatives, the lyrics of Mongolian folk dances, the middle names of drummers in German bands with Italian names who sing in English, my computer, the itch right below my left knee, the fact that I am about to leave high school and my home. To ponder all this while I twiddle my opposable thumbs is quite a miraculous feat.

So, I am a human being, a homo sapiens, a sentient being with the ability to twiddle my thumbs while I meta-thoughtfully think about my ability to meta-think. The world is my home. Maybe someday I will move to a colony on Mars. But the planet Earth-not just the place that has several landmasses, several large bodies of water, cats, timber wolves, mountain lions with long throats, but the place that gave rise to the human race-is my home. Here I am, at home, on Earth. Am I at home anywhere on the planet? Maybe. I have traveled quite a bit, I am accustomed to various cultures. I don't really know if I could be at home anywhere, but I have been able to fit in the places I have been.

I am not yet ready to end. I want to tell you more. But what should I tell you? Should I tell you about my experiences growing up in Europe, studying in German? Or would you rather read about my camping trips and the lessons I have learned from them. Maybe I should go into great detail about living in a small resort ski town. If you were here, you could answer these questions for me, but you are not, so my tired fingers will now be put to rest, while I hope that you have an idea of who I am.