Anyone who has ever spoken with Dee Leopold—and especially anyone who has asked her an admissions question—knows that she is about as direct and straight-talking as they come. She says what she means and should therefore be taken at her word. Dee stated on the HBS admissions blog, “We have no pre-conceived ideas of what ‘good’ looks like. We look forward to lots of variance.” So you can believe that there is no template or cookie cutter approach to writing a successful HBS essay and that the admissions committee has no expectations beyond hearing what you want to say. Focus on writing the right essay for you and the message you want to share with the school, rather than trying to decipher what you think the admissions committee “really” wants. Aiming to fulfill an imagined want at the expense of communicating your sincere experiences is a fool’s errand.
I would need to know what other topics you are including in your other 2 UC prompts. I think you need to consider what each essay is saying about yourself, and how they balance out. You could write meaningful essays about your anxiety and/or your Filipino background. One is not inherently better than the other. It’s all what you say about them. Sorry if that doesn’t help you. You also could write about both and see which one feels more meaningful and adds something to your entire application. Good luck! Janine