Reflective essays


A reflective essay is a convenient way to share your opinion and emotions regarding a specific experience or incident from life. In this paper, you describe how you feel, react, and think in the context of a particular event. This writing task allows you to open up about your personality, life experiences, and moral values. Considering this, you can conclude that this kind of essay is somewhat subjective. However, the tone of it remains formal throughout the text.

The primary purpose of the reflective paper

The essay’s name reveals the nature of the task — you should explain what is going on inside you when analyzing a specific subject matter. Every student experiences various feelings and reactions based on personal experiences. Writing the reflective paper, you will learn to do the following:

  • Divide a piece of information into significant parts, analyze these, and make conclusions.
  • Draw comparisons between the text information and yourself. Use additional material to analyze the issue better.
  • Define the lessons you learned from the story, characters, and decide on how your readers can win from the knowledge they receive from the text.
  • Write from your viewpoint and be subjective when presenting your view so that the reader can ’hear’ your distinctive voice.

The audience affects the format of an essay, its tone of voice, and vocabulary. For instance, if you are writing for a group of scholars, your paper will be entirely academic, including cold facts and recent statistics. However, if your audience is college students, the tone of the text will be rather friendly, and formulations will be easier to comprehend. In general, reflective essays are characteristic of such features:

  • Clarity: the text is cohesive, easy to follow, and the facts are clearly stated. If you go around the circle, nobody will get your paper’s idea, which will create total confusion among the readers.
  • Reflectivity: you must incorporate every worthy idea regarding the subject matter and present these through personal experience. As a writer, you should share your thoughts in such a manner that, eventually, a reader should be able to put himself/herself in your place.
  • Presence of evidence: you should underpin your statements with both your experience and academic pieces of information. By doing so, you can demonstrate your perspectives better.

Reflective essay types

Considering the nature of reflective essays, there are three types of them:

1.Reflective essays on the author’s experience. The reflective paper on some of your experiences can be a good catch. You can share your thoughts on some exceptional cases from your past. The point is not to turn the reflection into a narration. Thus, you should think well before picking a topic. The subject matter must convey a message, illustrate your emotions regarding the incident. Some of the themes that will open you as a personality are as follows:

  • The time you got your first job.
  • Failure is excellent, and here is why.
  • The first-time volunteering experience.
  • The most unfortunate trip.

The overall idea is to make your reflective writing more personal.

2. Reflective essays on the author’s character. Every human being is a vessel composed of many different traits. You inherit some of these from your parents, others are acquired throughout life. The chances are that you have one particular quality that is the most outstanding, and you would like to share with others why it deserves an entire story. You may discuss the importance of every quality that makes you a personality and emphasize a particular one.

3. Reflective essays on the author’s relationships. A relationship is a sensitive and deeply personal topic. Yet, you may have a story that means a lot to you — for example, you and your grandmother, who put a lot into your upbringing and personal development. Or, maybe, you have an elder sibling who always teaches you never to give up when it comes to swimming competitions. People like reading something on social topics, as there is no way they can live without communication. As you also stand in close relation to others, your story can evoke the desired empathy in readers.

Simple writing steps for a reflective paper

Reflective essays help to tell your story excitingly. However, do not take it too seriously; there is no need to share something very personal just for the sake of sharing it — it is not a confession. Your text must focus on a specific experience that changed you in some way. The format ranges a lot: you can present it even in the form of diary remarks. It all depends on the audience and instructions.

These are the steps you should follow:

Your personal growth is in the limelight

As you understand, you must write about something that happened to you and gave you a push, showed a life lesson, or changed you. It is a great way to analyze your behavior, some actions and see what personality you are.

You may resort to literature

Even though you are writing a paper on your experiences, you still need to introduce some pieces of literature. You can resort to classical works, famous characters, etc., to explain some of your deeds and draw a parallel.

Think about what readers would like to read about

When you reflect on the topic, you should also consider a reader’s position. In other words, imagine that you are a reader and think if your story is worth sharing. Will it give something to readers? Is the lesson you learned will be handy for others? Write down your ideas to see what topics are most likely to attract the attention of the readers.

It is all about reflections

Sure, it is an obvious statement that reflection is critical for this type of essay. Reflection is the most significant part of the paper. The essay’s body part will turn around the reflection concept: your emotions, reactions, feelings, perception, and analysis of all these. While reflecting on a specific incident, you should make a list of notes to use these later on and make your text more cohesive and organized. After this, you must consider the following questions:

  • What were the precise reactions when it happened to you?
  • Were your responses positive or negative, and did they change throughout the years?
  • How do you perceive the situation now?
  • What lessons did you learn after the occasion?
  • Do you feel that the experience changed you?
  • Looking back, do you think you would react differently when you know about the outcomes now?

Such questions can trigger your thinking process a lot and offer you some ideas on developing the essay.

Create a mindmap to better orient your memories

When talking about a mindmap for an essay, you should understand it as an outline. The plan will help you to put straight your notes on reflections. Besides, the outline ensures that you complete your essay faster just because everything is organized. Consider breaking the paper into three essential parts: the introductory paragraph, main body paragraphs, and a concluding part. Whenever you feel that you start to wander from the point, you can follow the outline for reference.

Handy recommendations on a reflective paper

Here are several recommendations for your reflective writing assignment:

  • Be attentive and cautious with what you are writing. While a reflective paper is deeply personal, it would be better not to turn it into a very intimate writing piece. You share some facts about yourself; thus, think well before adding any information to your work. If you suddenly realize that some details are too personal and you feel uncomfortable discussing these, do not include these.
  • Mind your language within the essay. Despite the nature of reflective essays, you must write your paper as a professional. In other words, you should avoid inappropriate vocabulary or slang words. Also, the text must be error-free. Thus, proofreading is also an integral part of your writing process.
  • You are the central character. You choose an experience from your life for the essay’s story. For that reason, you must concentrate on yourself. Even if someone plays a significant role in the story, you should not abstract yourself from a primary subject matter. It would be better to explain what this person did or said, but not describe the personality.
  • If you already revised the work, do it one more time. The truth is that you may let slip some mistakes during the first reading. Thus, it would be best to double-check. Pay attention to bulky sentences; you should divide these into two sentences. Finally, make sure that every sentence makes sense and there is no waffling.
  • An author’s voice is excellent; however, add some cherries on top to make your essay outstanding. The cherries are the transitional words, vivid images, glaring epithets. Using a well-thought vocabulary, you can make your story more engaging and memorable. Think about these as the Christmas tree decorations. They make your writing more interesting!

A reflective essay is a particular sort of adventure. On the one hand, you have a chance to enhance your writing skills. On the other hand, you can share a part of yourself with others and analyze your past experiences and reactions. The recommendations and tips will help you to complete your reflective writing task with ease.

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