Essay writing is an art that all students, elementary, high school, and colleges should learn. There’re many types of essays, and in this article, we’ll discuss the reflective essay.
A reflective essay allows the author to analyze their work or something else they have experienced. Writing a reflective essay is not difficult. However, it requires you to tap into your emotions, thoughts, and feelings to narrate a life experience.
This type of essay is also referred to as a ‘personal essay.’ It is usually written in the first-person point of view, allowing you to use personal pronouns like I, me, and my.
Below are four examples of reflective essays.
My first time moving away from home was for college.
“I was looking forward to leaving my parents and exploring what it’s like to live on my own. To say that I was excited would be an understatement. However, my excitement was short-lived because I had to deal with the most stressful move of my life.
I moved to the other side of the country where I knew no one. It took me several months to get used to living alone, and because it was my first time, I was unsure of what to expect. Finding friendly neighbors was a struggle, so I spent most of my evenings alone and lonely.
Most of my college mates were from wealthy backgrounds, so I struggled to fit in the cliques. There was also the issue of adjusting to the local culture. The weather was drastically different from my hometown, and I didn’t like it at first!
Even though I managed to make a few friends in the first two months, I still felt awkward interacting with most of them. They were used to a party life that felt strange to me. Sometimes we would go clubbing together, and I’d be the only sober one in a group of ten!
My friends and I were arrested and locked in more than twice because we were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Such experiences made me regret my decision to study away from home.
Dealing with homesickness was the order of the day, and I took a couple of weeks off from school. Here, I gained control of my emotions and realized that finding humor in everyday life was important.
Though I still struggle with making friends, I can finally say that I’m happy where I am right now. I adjusted to the culture, and I’m looking forward to graduation and finding a job.”
A personal reflection on bullying.
“My first experience with bullying was in the third grade. There was a kid who used to bully me because I was extremely shy. He would make fun of my looks, call me names, and beat me up in school. I felt humiliated because his friends would join him in bullying me.
I was constantly afraid of his physical abuse, and when I told my parents about it, they couldn’t do anything. They were as helpless as me. Their advice was to ignore him and walk away from the situation as soon as possible.
At first, I tried to avoid him, but it proved to be harder than I anticipated. He would chase me wherever I went and beat me up. His friends would laugh at me while he did it.
I became sad and angry because I had no one to talk to about my problem. I was ashamed of what I was going through and felt as if it was my fault. I would cry myself to sleep every night out of the shame I felt.
However, I was determined to end his cycle of bullying and prove that he wasn’t as strong as he seemed. One day, when he chased me around the school, I tripped over a bench and fell hard. His friends started to laugh at him because they thought he was too scared to beat me up anymore.
Unfortunately, he didn’t stop when they laughed at him; instead, he used the opportunity to insult me again. I was so angry that I started crying and ran away.
He bullied me for three years until he moved to another school in the sixth grade. His departure made me feel empowered, and I decided to stand up for myself whenever anyone tried to bully me again.
I’ve never dared to intervene if someone is bullying another individual. However, I always make my presence known and tell the offender to stop. A few stopped after I told them that the person they were bullying didn’t deserve to be treated badly. It felt good asserting myself and knowing that I made a difference, even if it wasn’t a big one.
The experience taught me that I should always stand up for myself and never allow anyone to do the same to me. It also taught me that there’s always a way out of difficult situations if you’re determined enough.”
How I moved from being shy to outgoing
“I was never the type of kid who was comfortable interacting with strangers. I would be really quiet and shy whenever I was introduced to someone new or met a group of people for the first time.
I was never confident about my skills, abilities, and explanations in class. I would constantly feel small in comparison to my classmates because they seemed so much smarter than me.
As a result, I would find excuses not to take part in group activities. This made my classmates think that I was weird and annoying because I always got in the way.
I was so afraid of being exposed, judged, and criticized that I refused to participate in school activities. As a result, my classmates thought that I was both weird and annoying.
As the years went by, I became more reclusive and started to hate myself. I only saw the negative things in myself and never thought there was anything good about me.
It didn’t help that my classmates constantly reminded me of how weird and annoying I was. I would go home feeling humiliated and hurt.
It affected my confidence so much that I had a tough time talking to strangers outside of school. I never felt good enough and always thought that I was a burden on everyone.
One day, a few months into my Grade 10, I decided to change. I started waking up early in the morning to spend an hour working on my communication skills. I would look at myself in the mirror and practice talking, smiling, and being friendly to strangers to build my confidence.
I also started reading books about how to become more confident and positive about myself. I practiced what I learned by working on the little things like eye contact and posture.
I ended up passing through the fear of judgment and criticism by learning how to be more confident when I was around people. This helped me gain the courage to become more vocal in classroom discussions and group activities.
I’m no longer afraid of being judged or criticized because I’ve learned that there is no point in fearing something you can’t control. It took me a while to realize that the people who judge and criticize are the ones who have low self-esteem.
I understand that everyone has flaws, but what sets me apart is my ability to understand my weaknesses and work on them. I also learned that it’s okay not to be perfect and that no one is.”
The day my life changed.
“It was the first day of Grade 7, and I was excited since it meant a brand new start to my high school career. It meant that I would be able to make new friends and fit in like the other kids.
I was never popular during elementary school; in fact, I was considered an outcast. I was laughed at and called names because of my weight.
I remember sitting in class when it was time to introduce ourselves. I was so nervous because there were so many people, and I felt like an outcast compared to them.
As soon as I stood up, everyone laughed and pointed at me. Some people even threw things like paper balls at me.
The teacher called me down, and the laughing continued even though I was on my way down. When I got back to my seat, everyone kept pointing and laughing. I felt so humiliated, hurt, and embarrassed.
I wanted to tell the teacher about it, but I was too scared. I didn’t want to keep bringing attention to myself, so I didn’t say anything.
As the year went on, it got worse and worse until I decided to skip my classes. I became more reclusive and began eating even more because of the neglect I felt from the people around me.
I felt like this was my life and that it would never change. I didn’t have any goals anymore because everything just seemed so pointless.
One day, I went to school and decided that enough was enough. I took a deep breath and decided to stand up for myself. I called the teacher over and told her that everyone was making fun of me.
The class got silent as if they were shocked that I spoke up. After I told the teacher everything, she spoke with the class. It turned out that they were all just ignoring me because they didn’t know what to say. They thought it would be easier for everyone if they just ignored me instead of trying to talk with me.
She told the class that she would be taking me to the office to meet with her assistant. My heart jumped because I thought they were going to kick me out of school. Instead, they called my mom, and I went with them to meet with my guidance counselor.
After that day, people started talking to me, and I was included in the conversations. I met new people and made friends. The people who were bullying me stopped and apologized. I feel grateful for the day my life changed.”
Characteristics of a Great Reflective Essay
A great reflection essay should be:
The writer should reflect deeply on how an experience affected them. The story should not be told in a detached, impersonal way. Owning your story gives it authenticity and helps the readers to connect better.
Reflective writing should be personal because it is subjective. Reflective essays are not objective, factual accounts of events. They are stories about events and experiences from the author’s perspective.
Reflective essays should be honest because they are about reflecting on your own life. The writer should be brutally honest about how the experience made them feel. If they don’t write about what it was like for them, there is no point in the essay.
Honest writing is important because it helps to make your essay more interesting. Don’t pretend or try to make yourself look better than you were at the time. If you do so, you are not allowing readers to connect with who you truly are.
Also, it’s important to be honest with yourself as well. If you can’t even be honest with yourself, you will have a hard time being honest with others.
A great reflection essay should include specifics about what happened and how it made the writer feel. The writing should be specific to the experience. Saying that you are bullied in school is vague, and it doesn’t say much. You should recount particular events and how they made you feel.
If you wanted to write an essay about how your life changed, then that’s what the essay should address. Rather than writing how specific incidents changed your life, explain how you before and after the change.
The essay should tell a complete story with no missing details. It should provide an accurate description of the feelings and circumstances surrounding the experience.
If you’re writing about how an experience changed your life, the essay should describe what it was like before and after the change. Reflecting on the experience should help you remember the specifics of what made you feel a certain way.
Also, it would be best if you told your story comprehensively. Don’t leave out major details for the sake of brevity. The story should be told in full to do justice to what happened.
Written in Active Voice
A great reflection essay should be an interesting read, and one sure way to make it so is by using an active voice. Passive voice kills the story’s momentum and makes it uninteresting.
- Active voice: The boy kicked the ball.
- Passive voice: The ball was kicked by the boy.
A great reflection essay should be written in active voice because it creates an engaging story for the reader.
Typically, a great reflection essay should follow the right format. Start with an introduction that sets up what the essay is going to discuss. In thebody, remember to provide full details about what happened and how it affected you. The conclusionshould summarize by restating the writer’s position on the subject.
If your tutor gave you a specific format to follow, make sure you do so. Even when the form is out of your control, make sure you structure your story logically.
The Structure of a Reflective Essay
The essay should begin with an introduction that includes the title and a short paragraph that states what topic will be discussed. In the introduction, create a thesis statement or argument that clearly states your position on the topic. Help the reader understand what you are going to be discussing in the essay.
The body of the essay should be broken up into several paragraphs that each cover one aspect of the topic. The body paragraphs explore the juice of the essay. Reflective writing should tap into your whole being.
In the body of your reflective paper, be sure to include the following:
- An unfiltered account of what happened.
- A chronological narration of the events that occurred.
- Your thoughts and feelings while the incident was going on or afterward.
- How the experience affected your life.
The conclusion should restate the topic that is being discussed and how it affected you. In your conclusion, mention how the experience triggered personal growth.
Also, be sure to use the same language as in the introduction since it helps guide your reader’s thinking. Wrap up your paper with a strong, concluding sentence that summarizes what you have narrated.
What not to include in your reflection essay:
|• Stereotypes or assumptions.|
• Your interpretation of what someone else was thinking or feeling.
• Personal opinions that do not relate to the topic.
The Reflective Essay Writing Process: A Step-by-step Guide
Below are the steps to writing a reflective essay:
Choose a topic. Reflective essays should be about personal experiences that impacted the writer in some way. It helps to choose a memorable experience rather than one that is impersonal.
Think about your topic. Think hard about the experience you are going to write about and how it affected you. How were the circumstances? What events took place, and what did you think or feel during or after the experience? What is the most memorable moment?
Do your research. Even though you’re writing experience, research is key in any writing. You will get ideas on how to narrate your story. Understanding how reflective essays are written will also help you in creating a high-quality paper.
Prewrite your essay. Use a piece of paper to write down what you plan on writing about in the introduction, body, and conclusion. To write a successful paper, it is necessary to reflect deeply on what happened. Relive the experience as you write down your thoughts and feelings about it.
Write the introduction. Introduce your topic and how it affects you. What is the thesis statement or argument? The introduction should be no more than three sentences, although the length of your essay also matters.
Use catchy words to get the reader’s attention and keep them engaged throughout your paper. Write a strong thesis statement or argument. The thesis statement should state the main idea of your essay.
Write the body of the essay. In the body, include details about what happened and how it made you feel. Explain the significance of the experience and its effect on your life. Use specific examples to add clarity.
Write the conclusion. Summarize what you have written in the essay and how it has affected your life. A good conclusion should refer to the introduction and tie together all the other thoughts.
Proofread your paper for any spelling or grammar errors before you submit it to your examiner. You can read aloud to a third party and let them judge your writing.
Writing reflective essays should be easy since you’re reliving your life experiences. However, just like any other paper, it calls for thorough preparation.
You will need to choose a topic after deciding on which experience to recount. Plan your essay, write an outline, create a draft then edit it to produce your final paper.
The format of a reflective essay is like that of most papers. You start with an introduction, explain what happened in the body, and conclude by restating your thesis statement. Focus on one experience, analyze it and what it means to you.