Gratitude Documents


I recently received a bit of a windfall in the form of a scholarship. This came as a nice surprise- I had given up hope on my application once the semester began, figuring that if I hadn’t heard anything by the time the tuition bill came due that I probably wasn’t going to hear anything; which just goes to show what I know- clearly it’s never too late for hope.

At any rate, as part of the acceptance process for this scholarship, I am required to submit Gratitude Documents, essentially a highly formalized thank you note. I find this requirement both hysterically funny and achingly sad: funny, because I’m a big believer in thank you notes to begin with and having to jump through funny formatting hoops feels silly, and sad because if they have such specific requirements for gratitude it is likely to be because no one writes thank you notes on their own anymore.

It turns out that Gratitude Documents include a bio, written in third person, a statement of gratitude written in first person, two portraits and a scanned signature. Unfortunately, it doesn’t include any names of who funded the scholarship, which makes out difficult to write the statement of gratitude since there is no one to direct it to. This makes it difficult not to sound pompous about why you think you earned it or what you plan to do with it. I did my best to tell it like a story, which may or may not have been the most formal way of expressing gratitude, but hopefully was at least a little bit entertaining. I’m learning at last ( after many years of Dad advice to “tell a story”) that if I want to be an entertainer that I ought to be entertaining even with the “boring” stuff like application essays and thank you notes and bios.

It’s not always an easy philosophy to live by: sometimes it feels like it would be safer just to write the normal sentiments for these kinds of things- we all know how they’re supposed to sound, but that doesn’t really fee like it makes much of a statement. I’m not sure if I always get it right, but at least I always have a little bit of fun.

At any rate, it was an interesting exercise in the contortions needed to fit sentiments of gratitude into a very specific template. I do my best to follow the rules: word count, page length, font size, and format, while at the same time trying to create something meaningful, personal, and interesting. It can be a fun challenge.

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~ by Gwydhar Gebien on October 9, 2015.

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