How’s your list of moments going? Are you stuck? Are you not sure which one would make a great essay?
Right now I’m going to leave you with a list of questions. You can think of them as prompts, or as potential sparks to help you develop the right topic.
- What is your biggest fear? Can you remember a moment when that fear revealed itself to you?
- Do you remember a time when you betrayed a friend? Or a friend betrayed you? What did you learn about yourself? About friendship itself?
- What moment from childhood do you wish you could return to? Why?
- What is the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you? What did you learn from it?
- Was there an older person from earlier times in your life who touched you profoundly? Do you remember specific moments with him/her?
- Was there a time when you had to make a sacrifice (big or small) for a person you loved? Or a person made a sacrifice for you? How did that change you?
- Can you remember a time when you felt out of place? What happened? What did you realize?
- Can you think of a time when you did the right thing? What about the wrong thing? What do those choices reveal about you?
- When have you felt humiliated? What did you learn from that experience?
What all of those questions have in common is that they’re trying to get you to think about:
a) one, specific story you want to tell
b) a time that you changed as a person or a turning point in your life or
c) a realization or epiphany you had about this memory.
This last one is especially important. You need to be answer the simple question: So what? In other words, why should anyone care about this memory? You need to be able to stretch beyond your personal experience to realize some sort of truth, some deeper meaning, that others can relate to, respond to, and care about.
Can you answer the question, So what?