With the ability to post anything online, more and more people are starting to write personal essays. Some of them are being published on big sites, which opens their window to millions of people. People across the world can read your essay, hear what you have to say, and judge you. This last factor is the one which adds a strong emotional element to writing a personal essay.
If you belong to Generation Y, you are already familiar with the way people judge you and your actions and how they say you “just want attention.” It’s common for people who read articles online to judge the writer for what he or she says, and when the article they are reading is personal, there is a lot of emotion involved. Sharing your personal thoughts and feelings with the world is scary, and can even be traumatizing in some cases. It’s like you’ve returned to high school and all those mean kids are still there to judge you and shame you — only now you are an adult and the world is judging you.
Are people who write personal essays in need of attention? Perhaps, but the real reason they write is to be heard! I am sure I speak on behalf of most people who write personal essays when I say we want to draw attention to facts, not to ourselves. Sharing a very personal story is hard, but when someone decides to do this, it’s always for a good reason, not just for attention on themselves.
Celebrities often use their own notoriety to speak their minds about the latest news or events. Take for example J.K. Rowling’s Brexit essay, or Chelsea Handler, who stood up and spoke about her abortion at 16 years of age. Because celebrities do this frequently, people see them as influencers, but when the girl next door shares her own experience, she might be taken as someone who is trying to draw attention to herself. This might be due to the fact we are used to celebrities drawing attention to themselves, so when someone does something a celebrity usually does, the first instinct is to think they are in need of attention.
A personal essay refers to one’s life — a real person went through situations which left a mark on them. When the mark is deep, you feel the need to speak up and tell others about your experience. For example, if you had an abortion in your teens, you will feel the need to share your experience so that other teens will read and think twice before taking the next step. But you always have to accept the fact your essay will stir up mixed emotions and will turn you into a target for bullying and tough criticism. Readers will perceive your writings in millions of ways. They will often forget that it’s your own life they are judging. You have to accept this before even writing the first word of your essay.
With a personal essay, you want to stir up reactions. So, even if you receive negative feedback, you should be proud of your accomplishments. Many people can write an essay, but few can ignite passions and emotions in their readers, so when you see that your article triggers comments, you need to be proud of yourself. For a reader to take his or her time to comment on an article, they need to be touched by that article to the core — which is not an easy thing. Be glad when you are able to touch people in this way because it means they heard you. They read your article and learned about your experience. Regardless if they want it or not, a piece of your life will stick with them forever, influencing them in a teeny tiny way.
Writers, keep writing, and readers, keep commenting on our articles so we can get inspired!
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