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Saturday, September 24, 2005


Going to Cambridge. Applying to Oxford. Also, growing a beard, but I've decided to shave that off now. I'll explain later. In the meantime, here's my personal statement for said Oxford application.


Recently, I was reading Fermat’s Last Theorem by Simon Singh. It wasn’t the toughest of reads, but the chapter on the advent of computers and their influence on the role of mathematics stopped me in my tracks. It put forward the opinion that computers distracted from the beauty of mathematics somewhat, giving people the option to solve problems using a “brute force” approach where they otherwise would have had to put together an elaborate chain of logic. As somebody who had been accepted to read Computer Science at Cambridge, I felt a slight unease in agreeing with this way of thinking.

That’s not to say I am easily influenced by the points of view of others. In contrast, I usually have a great deal of conviction in my own opinion and relish arguing it. However, over the last two years, I feel like I have been deprived of a proper opportunity to do this, despite co-chairing the school philosophy society for the duration of its one year stint, as a result of the A-level subjects I chose. I do not want to continue being denied a decent outlet for my thoughts at university. For this reason, I feel that philosophy would be an excellent subject for me to study, and combined with maths, it would be ideal.

As well as my role in the school philosophy society, my reading includes Karl Popper’s The Open Society and Its Enemies and Richard Feynman’s The Meaning of It All. With regard to maths, I last year achieved a gold award in the UK Senior Mathematical Challenge, going on to take part in the first round of the British Mathematical Olympiad and narrowly missing out on a place in the second round. I was also invited to join MENSA after achieving a top percentile score.

On a non-academic front, I spent most of my time at school playing rugby at an inter-school level, representing the school 3rd XV. I was also a petty officer in the school Navy Cadet Force, which provided me with the opportunity to gain a Royal Yachting Association Level 1 qualification in dinghy sailing. Two years ago, I was Marketing Director in a successful Young Enterprise company, and attained a credit in the aforementioned organisation’s exam. Outside of school, I am a self-taught guitarist.

Last year, when I had to decide which subject I wanted to study at university, I worried that Maths and Philosophy would prove too abstract a course for me to be able to retain any real focus in, whereas Computer Science, in helping me to develop numerous skills, would give me, with my abstract way of thinking and a mind that is occasionally distracted by what most people would regard as trivialities, something to aim towards. I now realise that my concerns, although logical, were not justified. I should not be looking to tame my free-thinking ways but to embrace them, to make sure I live up to my potential: I made a mistake in applying to do Computer Science. With that in mind, I just want to give myself the chance to do a course that I know I will enjoy, that I know I will thrive in and I know will be of the most benefit to me.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Nervous breakdown

I think I'm on the brink of one. I can't be certain, because I've never had one before, but it's not looking good. Last night, I went to sleep with this twitch in my left shoulder. When I woke up, it was still there, and has been coming and going all day. I also found myself trying to burrow a hole into the wall with my head as I tried to get to sleep. And it sounded like there were sirens going off in my head. I want to talk to my mum about it, but she'll just cry, and I'm too stubborn to get psychiatric help, which I think I quite badly need now. Just look how many blog entries I've made today: two! Crazy.


Too many things make me feel like crying. Like trying to choose which Oxford college to apply to, convinced that there's only one right choice and scared of screwing it up for a second year in a row. Like the fact that, out of the two philosophy books referenced in my personal statement, one's shit and the other I haven't read, and probably never will read. Like the prospect of starting a university course that I don't want to be starting, at a university I don't want to be going to. Like the constant reminders of said start. Like the pile of books right next to me, on topics that I really don't give a fuck about. Like the thought that I've fucked up my whole life. Like the knowledge I'm completely unprepared for my driving test in less then two weeks time. Like needing to spend money. Like having a really quite huge inferiority complex. Like the fear of amounting to nothing. Like being so locked up in all these worries that I'm completely unable to relate to anyone else. Like going to bed at night. Like knowing I say "like" way too much. Like thinking of all you guys, scared that I'd never post another entry. Like not being able to cry. Like cheesy closing sentences. Like some other stuff that I've probably forgotten.