Assignment 2: Narrative Essay
For your writing assignment this week, you will review the lecture about narratives, compose a narrative essay of five or more paragraphs of at least 500 words, and post it by Tuesday, August 8, 2017, for review. Then, by Wednesday, August 9, 2017, critique two of your peers’ rough drafts.
The narrative should have an engaging opening, an introduction that includes the main point you wish to make, at least three body paragraphs that tell the story, and a concluding paragraph that offers a strong close to the essay and reveals the meaning or significance of the story.
In The White Album (1979), Joan Didion wrote, “We tell ourselves stories in order to live.” Stories help us understand our lives, and they help us connect our experiences in some meaningful way with other people’s lives. Think about the stories that were told to you and about you as you were growing up. How did they shape your vision of yourself and your world? Words and stories are powerful; most parents, teachers, ministers, salesmen, and politicians realize this fact. How will you use this knowledge in telling your story?
Choose one of the following topics and begin brainstorming ideas:
- Tell about a time when you changed from being a child to an adult.
- Tell about a time when you lost something important.
- Tell about a time when you gained something precious.
- Tell about a time when you figured out how the world works.
- Tell about an embarrassing moment.
- Tell about a moment of victory.
- Tell about an opportunity not taken.
- Tell about a time when reality was different from your expectations.
Here’s an alternative topic if you prefer to focus on a special memory that does not fit one of the above topics:
A Moment Captured
Memories are powerful. In fact, we are our memories. And most families tell stories over and over, ensuring those memories are not forgotten.
- What story is told most often about you?
- Is it funny? Scary?
- Can you remember every detail, even if you weren’t old enough at the time to recall the actual event?
Sometimes there’s one image, like an old, faded snapshot that hangs around in your memory, reminding you of a story that’s been told so often until it’s almost more myth than reality. Try to imagine that time and what was happening.
Craft a five-paragraph essay to tell the story.
- As you jot down ideas, ask yourself what point you want to make in the essay, and then craft the thesis statement from that main point.
- Use a focusing event opening in your introduction.
- In writing the story of your memory, use the five senses, and make the picture come alive again and help the reader visualize the events.
- Include a strong ending.
The No Kid Zone
My children often echo that familiar sentiment I had as a child; they say, “Mom, I cannot wait to grow up, so I can do all the things you get to do as a grown-up.” And my rebuttal is strangely reminiscent of my mother’s, “Honey, you need to enjoy being a child because when you are an adult you have many responsibilities.” It is impossible, as a child, to realize that “adulthood” is somewhat like the rabbit-hole in Alice in Wonderland: strange, scary, as well as liberating. There is not one date on the calendar that marks the moment I tumbled down that rabbit chasm and changed from a child to an adult. It actually took a few years to fully transition and become financially, emotionally, and spiritually independent from my parents, which is when I entered the “no kid zone” and left my childhood behind.
Becoming financially independent was the first phase in my child-to-adult process. After graduating from high school, I moved out of my parents’ home to attend college in my hometown. My sister and I shared a small studio apartment as well as her student loan money, and once I got a job, I was able to pay for my college courses, my car, and helped with rent. I was 18, and I never asked my parents for money again. I learned to survive by working as often as I could, taking out the least amount of loan money needed, and eating a lot of peanut butter sandwiches. Looking back, I would definitely relive this newbie adult moment because it built my self-confidence and taught me how to problem-solve some of life’s greatest challenges.
When I moved 800 miles away from my hometown to attend graduate school, I began to feel emotionally independent of my parents. I still had a very healthy relationship with them, but I no longer felt my emotions were solely involved in family situations. For the first time in my life, I felt alone and scared, but I was positively anxious to write a different life narrative, which was informed by new people, new relationships, and new surroundings. I was living with a roommate, who I did not know very well; I was attending graduate school and teaching college students how to write, and I was making important life decisions based on adult experiences rather than my childhood experiences. Moving 800 miles away from everyone and everything I knew forced me to become self-reliant and resourceful, which are valuable life tools.
The final stage in this maturing transformation was gaining spiritual liberty. This has to be the most poignant step in the process because it redefined me. The child who had accepted everything her parents’ believed was now the adult who questioned and pondered the religious character of her past, present, and future. I did not deny or denounce; I simply stated, “This is what I believe…., and this is how I am going to demonstrate what I believe.”Feeling my own convictions of the heart catapulted me into adulthood, and it was the first moment I was thankful to be an adult and not a child anymore. These convictions made me want to be socially responsible, charitable, and a good steward of the environment, which was exhilarating to me.
The financial, emotional, and spiritual emancipation from my parents was complete around the age of 27, which is when I got married. During our wedding ceremony, I had my mother and my father walk me down the aisle together because both parents held my hand through childhood, offered me financial advice in college, and calmed my fears when I moved away to graduate school. Both parents answered my complex and simple spiritual questions when I was about to jump excitedly and voluntary down that strange, scary, and liberating rabbit hole that led to my adult life. The journey from childhood to adulthood was challenging indeed, but my parents kindly bridged the gap by giving me plenty of time to make the conversion. I will continue to tell our children to revel in their youth and enjoy the lack of adult burdens, but when the time comes, I want their leap down the rabbit-hole to be as thrilling and exciting as mine was.