What is a personal essay?
A personal essay is a piece of writing which describes or details some type of event, occurrence, experience, etc., in the author’s life to other people. It can be about any subject – whether it’s something profound like how to write a personal essay or something silly like what you ate for dinner last night.
What are the steps to take to write a personal essay?
The first thing you need to do is choose your topic. If your teacher requires a specific prompt, it can be beneficial to narrow down your topic around that prompt, so you have one main point to expand the rest of your ideas. For instance, if you’re writing a personal story about a vacation experience, you may want to narrow down your focus around a specific moment from the trip, such as when you decided to kayak for the first time.
Once you have chosen a topic, start brainstorming ideas about it. Your essay will be most effective if there is a clear beginning, middle, and end so you can explain your life experiences in a sequence of events. If you’re struggling to think of ideas, start with the ending first because endings are often the easiest part. Start thinking about what happened or what you learned at the end, then work your way back to how it began. This will allow you to decide on an interesting course of action that ties all of your information together.
Once you have your thesis statement, be sure to write it down. This will serve as a guide while you’re writing your essay, so you don’t lose track of the main points you want to illustrate. It’s also helpful because it gives you something specific to focus on when writing.
Once you have your thesis statement, think about the introduction to your essay. Your introduction should immediately grab the reader’s attention and make them want to read more. You can use a personal anecdote or story at the beginning of your essay to accomplish this if you’d like. If you’re stuck, try starting by asking a question that will lead into your topic – and then answer it!
Once you have your thesis statement and introduction, you will need to write out the body paragraphs. Each paragraph should address a separate aspect of your topic and further explain your thesis statement. If you’re having trouble figuring out how many body paragraphs you need, try following the rule of 3: 3 fact, details or examples per paragraph is a good amount. Make sure each paragraph has a clear topic sentence that sums up the information in that paragraph.
After you’ve written your body paragraphs, it’s time to write the conclusion. Your conclusion should restate your thesis statement and tell readers how to find out more about your topic. You may also want to include some personal reflection on what you learned or how it made you feel.
Once you have your introduction, thesis statement, body paragraphs and conclusion, it’s time to go back through your essay and edit for clarity. Check that each sentence flows forward into the next one so that the reader will have no trouble following along with what you’re trying to say.
Proofread your essay for grammar and spelling mistakes. Even if you are rushing to turn it in, take the few last minutes you have to go through your essay carefully. This is your opportunity to impress your teacher, so make sure they know how hard you worked!
Personal essay topic ideas
Write about relationships.
Teachers love essays that show the writer’s personality.
Start by writing about your first interaction with one of your friends. Use quotes to highlight what you remember most about this person, as their sense of humor or how they made you feel (happy, sad, etc.) Describe where it all began and what was going on at the time.
Continue with the second example of your friendship and go into more detail about what made this person so special to you. This section should describe how you grew closer and eventually became friends. If there was a specific moment that sticks out to you, tell the story!
End with a third and final memory of this relationship and where it stands today. Is this person still a part of your life? If so, why do you keep in touch? If not, what ended the friendship, and how have you moved on?
Write about how to overcome adversity.
Start by giving an example of your greatest struggle or most difficult situation. Try being introspective here – think deeply about what went through your head and what you felt at the time. Describe everything in detail from beginning to end, but don’t give away how it all turned out.
Next, write about the steps you took to come out on top of this situation. Were there any unexpected outcomes? How did this experience affect your relationships with others? Don’t forget to include how you feel now and any advice you would give others in similar situations.
End with a final reflection and why this was such an important experience for your life. How did it change you as a person? How has the outcome affected who you are today?
Write about someone who inspires you.
Start by describing who this person is and how you came to know them. Tell the story of your first encounter with this person, whether in person or through a different context.
Next, write about what makes this person so inspirational. What are their notable qualities? How do these qualities affect you?
End with why this individual inspires you so much. What do they represent to you? Why are they special in your eyes?
Write about why achieving your goals is important.
Start by giving three reasons why attaining goals is so significant. These should be personal, specific and relatable. Explain how each goal has importance for you or what kind of person it makes you when you succeed.
Next, write about what you think is holding you back or preventing you from reaching your goals. This should be the opposite of what you wrote in the previous section; instead of explaining how each goal matters to you, explain why they don’t matter at all.
End with a final reflection on what achieving these goals would mean to your life. How would you be better off? What kind of person do you think you’d become by succeeding?
Write about a conflict.
Start by introducing the main characters of this story. Who was involved, and how did they feel about one another?
Next, write about what caused this conflict to happen in the first place. What could have been done differently? If there were any unexpected outcomes or changes that resulted from this situation, include those as well.
End with a final reflection of what this conflict meant to your life. Was it a significant experience? If so, why?
Write about someone who has influenced you.
Start by describing the nature of your relationship with this person and why they were important to you. How did their influence make a difference in your life?
Next, write about one specific example of this person’s impact on your life. What was the moment you’ll never forget? Was there a specific instance in time when you remember thinking about what they said or did for you?
End with why their influence is so important to you and how much it means to your life. How has this impacted who you are today, and why is it significant?
Write about a time when you failed.
Start by giving an extremely brief overview of what happened, but leave the ending unknown. What went wrong, and how did this failure make you feel?
Next, write about what you learned from this experience. How has this failure changed your perspective on life or the way you approach certain situations? What have you taken away from this experience?
End with a final reflection of what it means to be a person who isn’t defined by their failures but is motivated by them. Even though you made mistakes in the past, what does that say about you today, and why has this failure impacted your life so much?
Memories of times when you were young.
Write about a time when you were afraid.
Start by giving an overview of the situation, but leave the ending open-ended. What was it that you were scared of? How did this make you feel? This step is important because there are many different types of fear, and they don’t always have to be scary or bad memories.
Next, write about how you dealt with your fear. Did someone step in? Would you have handled the situation by yourself, or did it require a helping hand?
End with what this experience says about being afraid and how it has changed throughout the years. Now that time has passed, what is the origin of your fears? Have you outgrown them or still carry the weight of your fears with you every day?
Write about personal dilemmas.
Start by briefly describing the issue you were trying to solve and who else was involved. What was going on?
Next, explain how you went about solving this dilemma. Who were your main sources of support, and why do they matter so much? How did everyone work together to reach a solution?
End with what it means to be a person who isn’t afraid of tough decisions. Even when the choices aren’t obvious, doing what needs to get done is an important quality that everyone should possess.
Write about a time when you were faced with opposition from others.
Start by giving an overview of the situation and your initial reaction. How did this opposition make you feel?
Next, write about how you dealt with this situation. What steps did you take to deal with the people around you and prevent further opposition? How was your relationship with these people before and after this experience?
End with why this is one of your most significant memories and what it means always to try again when barriers are placed in your way. How has this shaped the approach you take to all new experiences?
How do I write my essay’s beginning, middle and ending??
Start with your strongest story or memory.
Pick a description that is powerful and evocative. This is what people will read first, so it has to hook them in from the get-go.
Pick a story that is interesting and vivid. People love hearing stories about real life, so choose something that you can invest your emotions into.
Once you have written this introduction piece, the rest of the essay should write itself! Add in some more memories and details to connect them and finish off with a solid ending line.
Some effective personal essay examples for you
Personal essay Example 1
I became extremely conscious of the Women’s Rights Problem during my third year of university. I attempted to reconsider many of the cultural standards that I had previously accepted as “the natural order of things.” Women’s literature was one path through which I sought to increase my understanding of the female mind. That is why I spent one Saturday night in bed—cuddling a stack of Gertrude Stein, Virginia Woolf, Emily Dickinson, and Edith Wharton.
The book’s title, The Glass Walls of Paradise, refers to the eponymous material. Fridey discusses the lives of several women from the 1950s to now. These ladies are simply average. They either go to school and then get married or marry without thinking about it since college is only a method to locate more lucrative husbands.
Myra, the book’s protagonist, can never fathom why she isn’t satisfied with doing household chores. The only thing that gives her comfort is the neighborhood of women who chat about coffee in the afternoons.
They are perplexed by the death of Katherine, a Catholic woman who had nine children and an alcoholic spouse. “They assumed that Katherine’s life was regular; she only needed to persuade her husband to use contraception.” The remainder of the women, including Myra, had more subdued lives but just as deadly in their quiet desperation.
Myra’s life takes a turn for the better years later. Her spouse has achieved success, her children have reached adulthood, and the economy is good. Myra suffers a mental breakdown. After recovering, she files for divorce and enrolls as a Yale graduate student. Though distressing and difficult, it is at this point that she comes to terms with her internal enslavement and begins to break free of the “glass walls.”
I awoke in the middle of the night sobbing uncontrollably from a terrible nightmare after completing Myra’s world’s narrative that Sunday night. Though I couldn’t recall the dream, I had an important revelation. Myra’s existence was based on my mother’s life.
I had always regarded, respected, and revered my father for attending college, being intelligent and worldly, having power and control. In a nutshell, what makes a man.
Housewife, mother, and dependence: this was my mother in my childhood. I rebelled against tradition and feared wearing those shackles sooner or later. As a result, I strove to be like my father.
To be honest, I had no idea. But wow… What a revelation! I didn’t realize how much more bravery it takes for someone to live within a stifled role and find joy in living vicariously through other people until now. That night of sobbing allowed me to comprehend my mother for the first time—I respected her inner fortitude.
Myra’s story has significantly influenced the way I see myself, my feelings for and compassion for my mother, and the way I think about many women in our society today.
Personal essay sample 2
If you’ve ever climbed a mountain, you know how exciting it is to realize you’re approaching the world’s roof—especially for the first time when you have no idea what to anticipate or how it’ll feel.
My first mountaintop excursion occurred about three years ago when it was autumn and the gloomy mountains. My pals suggested I go to the Western Carpathian Mountains, and after a little hesitation, I agreed. At the time, nothing was interesting happening in my life, so I considered a location shift beneficial to me.
The Carpathian Mountains are not particularly daunting. When compared to the Caucasian Mountains, they appear more like hills, although on average, they are about 4500 feet high. Anyhow, this is plenty for a novice, and I am pleased that my mountaineering career began there. In the beginning, the slope of the hillside where we started our climb was relatively flat, but the path was uneven with rocks and tree roots.
On the other side of the hill, a pine forest covered the landscape. The trees were enormous and thick, with knotted main roots that pierced the earth here and there, making natural footpaths possible. The air was clean and fresh; after roughly 30 minutes of climbing, we heard a stream rushing toward us, and we went to it for a drink of its freshwater. It seemed like the perfect place for mountain climbers to rest, but we had more than an hour of climbing ahead of us before reaching the summit.
We emerged from the forest after about an hour and began to climb up the hill, overgrown with bushes. The color of the ground beneath our feet changed, but we were not aware of it until it began to rain somewhat, when it became slippery, and one of our friends fell. As a result, we discovered that we were walking on clay.
Fortunately, there was a level higher than this, and we could reach it; nevertheless, our clothing was streaked with clay. Furthermore, the slope gradient became steeper, so instead of walking, we had to climb. Instead of clay, there were mostly rocks and branches scattered about; we could grab anything growing nearby to assist us, and we did so. Whenever we slipped, our hands were scratched by the rocks and thorns.
When we reached the top after a long and tiring journey, we were not aware of it at first because of the overcast and foggy weather. Although the rain had stopped, we could barely see our surroundings due to the fog, so we felt let down but satisfied with our accomplishment. We brought a teapot and a touristy camera with us, and we sat down on the hilltop to drink tea and enjoy our accomplishments. I felt quite different at that moment from how I had been feeling before; I was truly fascinated by the sense of achievement
As we prepared to depart, the sun suddenly broke through the clouds and drove away from the fog. We were pleasantly surprised by the beautiful scenery surrounding us: lush green valleys, shady mountains all around, and a gleaming river of gold. We stood there for approximately five minutes, amazed by the breathtaking vistas below: verdant, misty vales, dark green slopes, white clouds in the blue sky, and water trickling between them. At that moment, I felt as though I reached a new level of understanding about life itself: it’s not just the little things you deal with day by day but something bigger than yourself that can be experienced if you’re willing to open your mind to it.
I hiked numerous more summits over the next years. Even though something remarkable seldom occurred, I continue to be happy and proud of myself for confronting new mountains firsthand. But I’m guessing I’ll never experience that sensation again when the clouds dissipated and showed me the entire planet below the first peak I climbed.
Tips for writing interesting personal essays
This is the most important tip when writing personal essays. Remember that your essay doesn’t have to be perfect in terms of grammar and spelling, but it should sound nice in the reader’s head. Be yourself in your sentences, not an academic or a professor or whatever.
Clichés are bad for so many reasons. They’re predictable. They do not convey your view of the topic but someone else’s; they are typically not very interesting for others to read.
Examples make essays interesting and memorable. If there is something you want to say, think about an example (or several!) that would help bring more clarity to your thoughts.
Be honest in your writing, but don’t necessarily reveal everything about yourself. Stay true to the topic of the essay, and make sure to communicate what you want to say—don’t ramble or go off on a tangent! And always keep in mind that there’s no need to tell your whole life story; it’s better to keep your essays somewhat short and precise.
Get feedback from friends and colleagues.
Have others read your essay before you submit it. This way, you can get some feedback on what works and what doesn’t work and make the necessary amendments if needed.
Reread your work; don’t be afraid to edit as you go along.
I know it might seem like a lot of effort with all those edits, but really, it’s worth it. You can always ask someone to review your essay for you, but don’t rely on others entirely! Edit and revise your work, so it sounds clearer in the end.
Use an active voice.
The subject acts as the verb; we do not let things happen passively; we make them happen. The audience will appreciate your effort and want to follow you as well.
You might like apples—that’s fine! But don’t describe yourself as “an apple” because it makes you sound boring and like everyone else. Be creative and make up your metaphors, similes, etc.
Don’t overdo it.
You want to be specific; you don’t want to ramble on and on about everything without saying anything at all! Less is more, so pick your words carefully—you don’t need that many details related only tangentially to your topic.
Don’t force yourself to include things you don’t want to write about or things you think your professor wants to read. Be yourself and write what feels natural—your readers will appreciate it!
Write with purpose.
If you have a specific topic or question in mind, it will be easier to focus on what you want to say. Having an answer or result in mind also helps—you’ll know when you’re finished writing!
Mistakes to avoid when writing personal essays.
Once you know what not to do when writing your essay, it will be easier to write a better essay. Here are some mistakes frequently made by students:
Don’t forget about editing and revising!
Your document should always have proper spelling and grammar corrections to make the best impression on your professor(s).
Don’t be vague or abstract.
“Abstraction” means a lack of concreteness in your writing—it might sound nice, but nobody has any idea what you’re talking about when you write in such away. Avoid using general words and terms where specific ones would do just fine!
Don’t use slang or casual language.
It might be okay to do so when you’re talking to friends or family, but not in essays—otherwise, you’ll lose the respect of your professors and fellow students!
Avoid using “I” too much.
The word “I” might sound important, but not if you use it every other word. Try describing your experiences in the third person (he, she, etc.), or avoid saying “I” at all—you can do that by using passive voice; for example: “At my school, I was encouraged to participate in extracurricular activities.” could be turned into “At my school, students are encouraged to participate in extracurricular activities.”
Don’t write more than you need to.
If your answer is 2-3 pages long, that’s fine; but if it’s any longer than that, there might be some aspects of your essay you don’t need to include.
If you can avoid these pitfalls, you are guaranteed a great personal essay.
Personal essays are the easiest ones to write since ideas are drafted from one’s personal experiences. The tricky part is using the right format and being descriptive. Just like any essay, you will need to practice constantly to get better at writing.
You can always reach out to us if you need help writing your paper. We are now offering some amazing discounts, so make sure you don’t miss out on this opportunity. Contact us through support@TenuredBuddy.com or +1 (903) 951-5891 for more information.