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Unedited Version (the "Before")
Early Thursday morning I began hallucinating. Sleep deprivation coupled with extreme physical exertion can do that to you. I had not had more than three hours of sleep since Sunday afternoon, the beginning of Hellweek. The statue of Liberty does not belong in San Diego, and I doubted those tigers racing along the shore were real. We were halfway finished with what our instructors dubbed, The Long Paddle and I was getting delirious. I could hear the officer in charge of our boat team having a heated discussion with Jenkins, problem was, Jenkins had quit the program two weeks earlier. For some reason it was reassuring to know that I wasnt the only being affected by the exercise, even though it meant that I was stuck in a tiny inflatable boat with six other potential lunatics. Hellweek, I had been through some incarnation of it every year since peewee football. But there was no comparison to the punishment that the United States Navy dishes out during Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL Training (BUD/S).
The sixth week of BUD/S marks the beginning of Hellweek; a six-day celebration of misery designed to encourage the weaker candidates to quit. A cold snap had wreaked havoc on our class, by the last day of Hellweek more than two-thirds of our original class had quit. Soft sand beach runs wearing combat boots, twin steel scuba tanks and a facemask full of salt water, all the while soaking wet and covered in sand is encouragement enough to make most people question their desire to finish the program. But it is the cold that claims the most victims. Shivering all night and well into the morning for days on end is enough to make a strong man weak, especially when a hot meal and a warm bed are so close. All anyone had to do to be delivered from this suffering was quit. Simply stand in front of your classmates and ring a silver ships bell three times and you could be on your way to a hot meal and a comfortable mattress. But I had set a goal for myself and I knew, even in that Thursday morning delirium, that quitting the program was not one of my options.
When I had applied to BUD/S and set a goal to become a frogman I was not an exceptionally gifted swimmer, an accomplished distance runner, and I had a more than healthy respect for heights. By the time that my training had been completed, swimming six miles in the open ocean was commonplace, running upwards of fifteen miles was the norm, and well, no one had to push me out of an airplane although it would be hard to consider that commonplace. I have learned that by clearly defining ones goals, understanding the qualities needed to achieve that objective, and by systematically training to overcome weaknesses and complementing strengths required to accomplish that goal, virtually any challenge can be met successfully.
My decision to attend law school was not one that came easily to me. After all, I have a comfortable house in the suburbs, a happy marriage, and a beautiful daughter. My career as an accountant was working out as I had planned and I still had enough free time to pursue my hobbies. By all accounts I could maintain my status quo and coast happily through my life until my retirement party. But I can not do that to myself, I require challenges, arduous and demanding challenges. I want to contribute more to the workforce than capitalizing my companys construction in progress.
I understand the rigors associated with the study of law and I am prepared to dedicate my time so that I may excel at understanding its theories and practices and in turn use that knowledge to better my professional career and my personal requirements to be the best at what I have set out to do. I believe that the qualities that make a successful law school graduate: dedication to the pursuit of knowledge, ability to effectively argue and defend an opinion, and to plan, research, and execute a successful case are qualities that can pay off in many aspects of life.
I understand the challenges associated with the study of law, I have taken measures to improve on the skills that are necessary to complete a law school program, and I am ready, willing and prepared to accept those challenges so that I may become a successful attorney following my graduation.
Edited Version (the "After")
I began hallucinating early Thursday morning. My team and I were halfway finished with what our instructors dubbed The Long Paddle, and I could feel my sanity slowly slipping away. A combination of severe sleep deprivation and extreme physical exercise can do that to you. I had not had more than three hours of sleep since Hellweek had begun on Sunday afternoon. As I looked around me, I contemplated the extent of my delirium. I was reasonably certain that the Statue of Liberty did not stand in San Diego and that the tigers racing along the river bank did not exist. My ears picked up the sound of our boats leader having a heated argument with Jenkins, but Jenkins had quit the team two weeks ago.
Looking around me, I felt reassured seeing the confused expressions on my teammates faces. Even though I was stuck in a tiny inflatable boat with six potential lunatics, I at least knew that I was not the only one being affected by the exercise. Hellweek. I had been through some incarnation of it during each year of my life, ever since peewee football. But no previous hell could compare to the punishment that the United States Navy dishes out during Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL Training (BUD/S). Hellweek marks the sixth week of BUD/S, and is a six-day celebration of misery designed to eliminate weak candidates. Only the strong can survive it.
This years week of torment was heightened by an untimely cold spell; more than two thirds of our original class had already quit. Running on soft sand beaches while wearing combat boots, getting a facemask full of salt water while lugging twin steel scuba tanks on your back, being soaking wet and covered with sand, these are enough to make most people question their desire to finish the program. But it was the cold that claimed the most victims. We shivered through the nights and well into the mornings, the chill of the air seeping into our very bones. Visions of hot meals and warm beds haunted us; we knew that ending the suffering and the cold was as easy as quitting the program. And quitting was so very easy. Simply stand in front of your classmates and ring a silver ships bell three times . . . the temptation was nearly irresistible. But I had set a goal for myself and I knew, even in the midst of that Thursday morning delirium, that giving up was not an option.
The BUD/S program had already made a marked difference in my life. When I first decided to become a frogman, I was not a gifted swimmer or an accomplished distance runner, and I had a slight fear of heights. Over the course of my training, however, I routinely swam six miles into the open ocean and ran upwards of fifteen miles on land, and had jumped out of an airplane more than once. Moreover, I gained a sense of confidence in my ability to set and attain goals. I learned that virtually any challenge can be overcome by defining clear objectives, understanding the qualities needed to achieve them, and then systematically overcoming weaknesses and complementing strengths to best approach the task.
For many months I agonized over the decision to attend law school. At this point in my life, I seem to have all I need: a comfortable house in the suburbs, a happy marriage, and a beautiful daughter. My career as an accountant is pleasant, and leaves me enough free time to pursue my hobbies. In short, I could have simply sailed happily through life toward my eventual retirement party. But I realized that to do so would be to set a severe limit upon my potential. I require constant, arduous challenges that demand all of my resources, both physical and mental. I want to contribute more to the world than simply capitalizing on my current companys success.
I understand fully the rigors associated with studying law, and I am prepared to dedicate as much time as it takes to understand its theories and practices. I believe that certain qualities distinguish a superior law school graduate: dedication to the pursuit of knowledge; the ability to effectively argue and defend an opinion; and the skills to plan, research, and execute a watertight case. These qualities are vital to law, and can also reap extensive rewards in many other areas of life. I am ready, willing, and prepared to accept the challenges I will face during law school, and I look forward to forging a successful career, both as a student and as an attorney.