Ideas for Writing a Reflective Essay

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A reflective essay shares personal experience and thought. As a personal narrative, it should be written in your own voice and style.

A reflective essay has no strict guidelines, but it should have three basic elements --- a thesis paragraph that describes the essay topic, a body that delves into your thoughts on the topic and a closing paragraph to summarise the essay.

Life-Changing Experience

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Life-changing experiences can be traumatic or joyful, but they have major impact on our emotions. Life-changing experiences may include the death of a close relative or friend, a wedding, the birth of your first child, a spiritual calling, a career change or loss and involvement in political activism. When writing a reflective essay on a life-changing experience, be sure to discuss your mentality and life path before the event and how your life has changed since. Include how the event has shaped your goals and emotions about your future. For traumatic experiences, it is important to discuss your healing process.

A Mentor

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Mentors are people who have helped shape your life in a significant way. A mentor may be a teacher, favourite author, political figure, close friend or relative. Mentors guide you on the right path and encourage you to follow your dreams. A mentor may help you change careers, start a new hobby, guide you through a difficult time or teach a new outlook on life. You do not have to know your mentor personally. Many people admire public figures and aspire to be like them. When writing a reflective essay about your mentor, it is important to educate your readers about who your mentor is, what she has accomplished, what she has taught you, why you aspire to follow a similar path and how you plan to accomplish your goals based on her inspiration.


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Everyone makes mistakes, but some mistakes change your outlook or course in life. Whether writing about a mistake that led to a happy or regretful outcome, think about the course of action that led up to the mistake, what you could have done differently and how that mistake changed your life for better or worse. If the mistake had a negative effect on your life, you may want to include how you plan to change your actions to a positive.

World Events

With instant connection to the Internet, world events are learnt about within minutes of their happening. Some events that cause significant impact on our lives include natural disasters, missing people, school shootings, royal weddings, presidential elections and scientific discoveries. Before writing reflective essays about a world event, analyse the implications of how it affected a population and how it affects their immediate and long-term future. Be sure to cite credible references and use facts related to the actual event. Also discuss how the event affected you personally, if you believe it was handled properly and what could be done on political and community levels to prevent or create similar happenings in the future.