Posted: August 29th, 2022

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Pick a topic below and compose a 2-4 page essay in MLA format that narrates a moment in your
life when you began to understand an aspect of your identity. Your essay needs to consider your
intended audience, your context, and your purpose; simply put, avoid narratives that reveal
and/or delve a little too far into your personal life. Your essay should follow a linear story
progression in traditional essay format.
Essay Topics:
1. Write about an instance where you felt pressured to conform to a traditional identity role
(ex: feeling required to act “white” despite identifying as Hispanic). How did the
experience make you feel?
2. Write about an instance where you stepped outside of a traditional identity role society
expected from you. What lesson and/or lessons did you learn from this experience?
3. Who or what shaped/shapes your views on a specific identity? How has this impacted
Helpful Hints:
1. Although your narrative is a story, your paragraphs should still serve a purpose and
follow conventional essay format. Your introductory paragraph should have a clear thesis that lets the reader know what to expect from the essay. Your body paragraphs should
provide distinct details of your story. Your concluding paragraph should end your story in
an effective, memorable way.
2. Do not feel limited with topics because of the example essays provided. Students have
approached this paper in many different ways, including topics such as deciding to join a
new church, identifying as the first family member to go to college, deciding to take on a
nontraditional occupation, etc.
3. Avoid speaking in absolutes, such as “All women always do this.” (We can’t truthfully
make statements like these that speak for all women in all cases.) A better option would
be “Many women often do this.”
4. Avoid sharing personal details that might be traumatic, embarrassing, and/or concerning
for you and/or the reader. Keep this in mind: there is a fine line between self-
reflection/discovery and a therapy session.
5. While you may research the word “identity” for your own purposes, there is no need to
define it in your essay. (Consider your intended audience: I am well aware of the
definition.) In fact, there is no need to cite outside sources at all in this essay. Focus on
your personal experience, not research. We start with this essay so you can concentrate
on essay structure and organization. Your research paper will deal with incorporating
research. (We will also use the book much more then.)
6. No matter which option you choose, you have two questions to answer in your thesis.
The first question asks about your past experience. The second asks how this experience impacted you. Don’t make the common mistake of only answering the first question.
7. Another note about the second question: When asked how the experience impacted you,
really put some thought into your answer. I think we can all agree that a cliché answer
such as, “It made me who I am today,” doesn’t really tell me anything. Who are you
today? That’s the answer I’m interested in learning.
Introduction is interesting and appropriately familiarizes the reader with the topic.
Paper contains a clear, easily discernable thesis statement.
Body paragraphs support and further explain the thesis statement.
Clear structure and organization of body paragraphs.
The paper is written in grammatically correct Standard English.
Paper adheres to MLA format, including the heading, header, appropriate margins, font, etc.
Conclusion effectively provides a sense of completeness and closure to the paper.
*Papers that do not meet the minimum length requirement of two full pages will lose at least a
letter grade.

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