I cant answer your no.1 question but I can help you with no 2.
Last year, I wrote an essay that I thought resembled me. But after several editing the message I tried to convey was lost. This is my experience and this is what happens to most. And its understandable because not all of us look at and interpret things in the same way. And hence if many brains get into one essay a slight change from each one will change your essay drastically.
So here’s the thing. Write an essay that you think resembles yourself and give it to people you know would understand you. It does not necessarily have to be a far off cousin who attends harvard or yale. Make sure that the person understands you well and gets what you are trying to convey and I would highly suggest him/her to be someone who has been trough all the process and understands it.Cheers!
- I have not come across this saying: we should not write personal essay in your voice. I could not quite understand why you should not write your essay in your voice.
- This happened to me. I gave my Common App to multiple people and kept correcting them. I finally ended up with a vocabulary rich essay but the message I intended to give was lost in the editings I made. I have not saved my essays so I do not have examples. But I am sure you will understand if you will do it by yourself. Try writing an essay that resembles you, then give to 6/7 people to edit one after another. Get the essay back and read. If it does sound like what you had written earlier then the person you asked to edit, did not actually edit. If he/she did edit and the essay still sounds similar, then Congratulations! Else, you will realize that the essay is different.