In this writing assignment you will have the opportunity to reflect on your position now, and consider one specific incident that influenced it. I will give you some restrictions, not to cramp your style, but to help you avoid some of the common pitfalls that often accompany this type of writing. So, jump in and enjoy the writing process. If you walk through these steps, you should be able to come up with an excellent idea and then express it in an interesting way.
Personal Narrative Writing Assignment
Write about an epiphany you have had that has had an influence on your life’s journey.
* Personal Narrative: When the writer (you) is writing his/her own experience. This should be easier than a lot of other types of writing because (a) you are an expert about you, (b) you should be enthusiastic about your own experience, and (c) you have multiple options to pick from your experience. So, in other words, enjoy this writing assignment. It sure beats writing an analytical research paper about Shakespeare’s play Hamlet.
* Epiphany: A sudden realization in which you understand something (some truth, lesson, etc.) that you didn’t think about before. This idea is often portrayed in comics or cartoons as the “light going on” above a person’s head. Epiphanies can be big or small. For example, a big epiphany might be “life is painful.” A small epiphany might be, “nostrils were not made to put beans in them.”
Now that you have these definitions, you should understand a little better what you have been asked to do. In more simple terms, you are going to write about an experience in which you learned an important lesson that made a difference in your life.
So, let’s get started.
The first thing you should do to get started is brainstorm as many ideas as you can think of in which you have learned an important lesson. For example, my list would look something like this.
I learned that:
* Large rocks in tall grass are not friendly to speeding mountain bike wheels—or the rider.
* When float-tube fishing, nets are a must.
* A hacksaw will take off a cast just as easy, and a lot cheaper, than a doctor.
* A momentary break in concentration can kill a cousin.
* Age 29 is not too young to have a heart attack.
* Ants are my friends.
* Smuggling gross food away from my plate at my grandma’s house was a key to survival when visiting her.
* My face was not meant to be part of the asphalt.
If you already made a list, go through it again and make specific any experiences that are stated vaguely. If you haven’t made a list, do so now, and think about specific, concrete experiences in which you have learned something.
Do-it-yourself Cast Removal
We lost seven of our first nine basketball games. All we had to do to start winning was lose our starting guard—me—to injury. I broke the fourth metacarpel in my left hand just below the ring finger during Christmas break of my senior year. Of the nine games we played, I started all of them, and we lost all but two of them. Then, after my injury the team won sixteen of their last eighteen games. I could have learned many lessons from this experience, such as “I should have given up basketball nine games earlier,” or “everyone contributes to the team effort—some just do it better from the bench.” But, I learned much more than that.
Coach Ernst looked a bit surprised when I showed up dressed out and ready to practice with my bulging left forearm the next day. (In addition to the fiberglass cast, I wrapped it with a bit of padding and an ace bandage to prevent any more injuries to teammates.) I realized that he expected that I would sit and watch practices and still be a part of the team—at least in name, but I know he was surprised when I was ready to still work hard; especially considering I really had little chance to play the rest of the year. I realized that no one would push me except myself in this situation. So, I practiced hard that day, and every other day. The only reward was that I knew I was pushing myself as hard as I could, and by so doing I was also pushing my teammates.
Sweating profusely in a cast packaged up in an ace bandage created a stench that made the compost pile smell like perfume. I refused to stop practicing, and therefore the sweating continued. At first, I could wrap a fresh ace bandage around it to keep the odors in, but eventually they began to leak. Finally, I was afraid of both the stench and the mold that must have been growing on my skin, so I got the dish soap and injected it into my cast like a giant syringe. I then rinsed it out for a long time. I didn’t think the bubbles would ever stop coming out around the fingers. The next problem was drying the padding underneath the fiberglass. It took two days to dry, so then, instead of a sweaty stench, is was more of a moldy mildew. When I washed it again, I grabbed a 3/4 inch drill bit from my dad’s tool chest and carefully turned my cast into swiss cheese. It was much easier to wash and rinse, and then to dry it, all I had to do was drive around town with my holey arm hanging out the window for about ten minutes. This went on for several weeks. I continued to practice, and I continued to wash my aromatic arm. Padding began falling out about three weeks after getting the cast. Four weeks into it, the padding nearly disappeared entirely, and the washing stopped.
In the meantime, our team climbed out of their slump. I continued to find joy in pushing myself, knowing that I chose to practice. No coach forced me to. I also became the best cheerleader on the sideline. About the time the last padding fell out of what was left of my cast, I knew the cast was not doing me any good. The doctor wanted two more weeks in the cast, but the season ended two weeks later. So, I figured I would save my parents a doctor fee. I went to the garage, and pulled out the hack saw. The blade was a bit rusty, and I knew I needed to be careful, or else I would be seeing the doctor for another reason. The hacksaw tore right through the fiberglass, and in minutes the crusty, smelly, holey shackle fell to the floor.
Coach Ernst was excited yet concerned, and I finished the season in a new supporting role (of sixth man) that was beneficial to the team. I am also glad to report that we didn’t start a new losing streak when I returned.
I don’t know if the team would have done better without me getting hurt, or whether it actually did benefit the team to have me in a completely different role of practice dummy/ cheerleader, but I did learn one thing: ultimately, I am responsible for my own performance. In high school, I had always had coaches to push me, or English teachers to give me due dates, but once I left high school, my destiny depended much more on me. I learned when I broke my hand that I could just sit back and hope people had sympathy for me, or I could move on and push myself to higher levels, because in the real world only I would really push myself. I also learned that doctors are way overpaid. A fifty cent hack saw blade was a lot cheaper than a one hundred dollar doctor bill.