Rest assured, many writers — whether they are journalists or literary writers — are pretty self-obsessed and even, sometimes, selfish. Self-obsessed refers to the habit of being caught up in one’s own mind, thinking about what to write next — on issues that concern the writer. Selfish refers to the tendency to shut out other people, particularly when a piece of writing is at its gestation period and the writer is ready to bring it to life. The more hard-core a writer you are, the more you exhibit these characteristics — at least, that’s how I see it.
Let’s talk a little bit about a personal experience here: Although I can be pretty self-obsessed, I can’t stand to isolate myself for too long. I have a great need for socializing. Recently I met a friend, also a writer, who also has a great need to socialize with others in order not just to recharge her batteries but also let off some steam. She complained to me about being ‘stranded’ in the wrong environment: She often feels lonely, because all her contemporaries are highly self-obsessed and can isolate themselves for weeks, even months, just to brew over their pieces. They are all hardcore intellectuals, I know. Sometimes, their sacrifice pays off and they produce great work.
“It’s amazing when people are able to do that. I wish I also had no need for socialization, because then I wouldn’t feel lonely [when my friends shut themselves off to contemplate and write],” my friend lamented.
I am grateful that not all of my friends are that hard-core. At least, sometimes I can still find time to hang around with them and have a real conversation. Like last Sunday, I went to a little book club created in collaboration with two friends of mine, who live in the village of Cinangka, Depok, West Java.
First we discussed books we are reading, before the conversation digressed seamlessly to pure gossip. One member talked about her dislike of Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat Pray Love, not just because the work takes an orientalist view of the East (in this case, the “East” is embodied by Ubud, Bali), but also because the writer is an egocentric, whose sole obsession covers three domains: me, myself and I.
Then we moved on to talk about another writer, how this writer seems to obsess over the concept of me, “myself and I”.
“It’s always the same thing […] An event will only be important if it affects this person personally. In a nutshell, this person writes just to show ‘Look, I am great!’ Well, who cares!” my friend told me before laughing out loud.
Then I paused and said: “Hey, I also write essays of personal experiences and use I a lot…”
“No, you’re exploring your pain, talking about the human condition. That’s different,” she said.
And still, I did not get the difference between self-exploration and self-aggrandizement right away. This led me to contemplate the matter for the next few days. First of all, what is the subject of your writing? Do you faithfully stick to it? Do you use personal experience merely as a jumping-off point, or do you consciously put yourself under the spotlight and use the subject matter merely as a frame to put your own photograph in?
For instance, say I’m writing about my hometown, North Sumatra. It’s different to use my own personal experiences as a jumping-off point to move on to the bigger picture than to use the setting as a jumping-off point for me to talk and brag about myself.
Example: Say I’m writing about the influence of the Batak Toba diaspora on the Indonesian culture, I could provide one particular example about the struggle of my friend, who also hailed from the province, to adapt to Jakarta, a cruel city in itself. But then I have to move on to the big picture.
I could probably throw in snippets of information from local cultural figures to whom I am close to tap their wisdom for the readers.
That would be very different from writing about the same subject, but talking about me all the time: how great I am to be able to approach prominent North Sumatran cultural figures, my own great ability to consistently retain my practices of local spirituality in the city of Jakarta, my penchant for eating dog and pork and how Batak people from the region finance my writing projects to going as far as explaining the meaning of my name in the local language and how it affects my life (Can you count how many I, me and my possessive determiners/pronouns I used just in that short paragraph?). If I did that, surely I would get lost in my own vanity and make my readers yawn out of boredom.
Which brings us to your intention as a writer. Do you use self-revelation and expose your weaknesses and vulnerability to present to the readers a common thread shared by others, or do you use it to brag and show others just how great you are? There is a big difference between the two.
This intention, albeit known only to the writer, can sometimes reveal itself to the reader.
In short, being an egocentric, self-aggrandizing writer does not always bore readers to tears. Self-aggrandizing books and columns still sell, particularly in this age of self-entitlement. This is proven by statistics and reader surveys across different media platforms.
After all, have we forgotten that Eat Pray Love is a huge bestseller? Whatever type of writing you want to put out, it all depends on your intention as a writer. Do you want to connect with other people, or would you prefer to be trapped in your own vanity? You decide.
It’s My Life
My name is Ann Smith. I am a senior in high school. Everyone can agree that I am a good student and that I like to study. My favorite subjects are chemistry and biology. I am going to enter the university because my goal is to study these subjects in future and to become a respected professional in one of the fields.
I can say that I am a responsible and a hard-working student. Moreover, being a sociable person, I have many friends since I like to communicate with people and get to know new interesting individuals. I enjoy my time at school: it is really nice to study and the students are very friendly and ready to help. The atmosphere cannot but make me want to go there every time. I like to receive and deal with challenging tasks. I am a very enthusiastic student and I think this is a strong point of mine.
My friends say that I am a very funny and an interesting girl with a good sense of humor. As soon as I meet new people who are happy to meet me, I feel extremely comfortable with them. I believe that friendship is one of the most important values in human life. We exchange new ideas, find many interesting things about each other and experience new things. I appreciate friendship and people who surround me.
Every time I do my best to be a…
Some Essential Tips On How To Write An Essay About Yourself
No matter what’s the purpose of your essay, there is a preset number of points that you will be expected to address.
The main line should be that you are not a robot, and that it is your feelings and emotions that define you as a personality. Do not get stuck with material possessions and what you have achieved in life. That has to do only with a small portion of who you are.
- Avoid overly simplified ideas. You are a human being after all, and your life is not as simple as it may seem after years of school. You wouldn’t want to seem or sound too simple. The more substance you create out of your daily activities, the better. Longer sentences will be good.
- Include a few dream-like paragraphs to stress the point that you are not a robot. Sometimes it can get hard explaining your feelings and emotions, you may say.
- The best way to get to know people is to see how they react to stimuli. Use your essay to pick a few incidents or just more or less regular events to attempt and define what your character is at its core.
- Find amusing in ordinary and showcase that. Your job is to present the ordinary stuff that happens to you in a way that will make the reader want to know you better. It’s all a matter of the right perspective. You have to take multiple stands on what you are as a person, and include that all in an ordered form.
- How do you fit with your friends, family and just immediate surrounding? Where is your place in the world?
- What the purpose of your life? If a question like that is too global for your work, you can just include the things that you enjoy. Don’t forget to say why or explain any symbolism connected with the things you love.
Avoid Unclear Definitions
It is really easy to get lost when you are writing something as vague and as perspective-oriented as an essay about yourself. People tend to choose a number of themes of who they are and try to describe them all.
That would be very confusing for the reader. Not to mention that it would be hard to write and navigate in between those themes. After all, very few people know you well enough, and it is almost certain that your essay is going to be read mostly by strangers or just people who know you marginally.
What you do instead is pick one theme: which light do you want to be seen in? Once you have answered that question, you are ready to go. Stay true to the theme, and you will get a coherent piece that will get you a good grade.
If you are going to write your own essay from the scratch, our manual on «How to write an essay» will be useful for you.