Why Write an Autobiography?
At some point in your education or your career you will be required to make a presentation about yourself or to write an autobiography as an assignment. Some people will welcome the opportunity to share their own personal experiences, while others will dread it.
Whether you love this assignment or you hate it, you should start with the knowledge that your story is much more interesting than you probably realize. You may as well make the story enjoyable to your audience! An interesting story will get a better response from your audience and a better grade from a professor.
These tips are intended to help you determine (perhaps to your surprise) how interesting your story really is!
Adding Some Spice
Your autobiography should contain the basic framework that any essay should have, like an introductory paragraph with a thesis statement, a body containing several paragraphs, and a conclusion. But the trick is to make your life story an interesting narrative with a theme. So how do you determine your theme?
You've probably heard the saying that diversity is the spice of life. While the saying is a little old and tired, the meaning holds true. Your job is to find out what makes your family or your experience spicy and build a narrative around that. In other words, you will research on your own life.
Start your research by taking a close examination of your life and taking notes on the things that make you interesting.
Your Family Background
Just like the biography of a famous person, your biography will include things like the time and place of your birth, an overview of your personality, your likes and dislikes, and the special events that shaped your life. While you might think you're ordinary and boring, you'll soon realize that your story is quite unique.
It might be tempting to start your story with "I was born in Dayton, Ohio…" but that is not really where your story begins. It's better to ask why you were born where you were, and how your family"s experience led to your birth.
Every region of the world has a special story, and every family comes from a region or culture that will seem very different and interesting to others. What do you know about your grandparents? Your great-grandparents? Have you ever asked what your grandparents did for a living, or how they came to settle in a certain part of the world?
Your first step in researching your own autobiography is to gather some background story. Some things to consider:
- What is interesting about the region where you were born?
- How does your family history relate to the history of that region?
- Did your family come to that region for a reason?
You may not have had the most interesting childhood in the world; but then again, you may have had an experience that was more interesting the most. The idea is to highlight the best parts when you can. And always remember that the things that don't seem very interesting to you may be interesting to others.
If you live in an inner city, for instance, you should realize that many people who grew up in the country have never ridden a subway, never walked to school, never ridden in a taxi, and never walked to a store.
On the other hand, if you grew up in the country you should consider that many people who grew up in the suburbs or inner city have never eaten food straight from a garden, never camped in their backyards, never fed chickens on a working farm, never watched their parents canning food, and never been to a county fair or a small town festival.
There will always be something about your childhood that will seem unique to others. You just have to step outside your life for a moment and address the readers as if they knew nothing about your region and culture.
Your culture is the overall way of life, including the customs that come from your family's values and beliefs. Culture includes the holidays you observe, the customs you practice, the foods you eat, the clothes you wear, the games you play, the special phrases you use, the language you speak, and the rituals you practice.
As you write your autobiography, think about the ways that your family celebrated or observed certain days (birthdays), events (harvests), and months (December), and tell your audience about special moments. Consider these questions:
- What was the most special gift you ever received? What was the event or occasion surrounding that gift?
- Is there a certain food that you identify with a certain day of the year?
- Is there an outfit that you wear only during a special event?
- Have you ever ridden on a horse carriage? What about a hay wagon? A donkey? What about a limousine, train, mountain bike, eighteen-wheel truck, tractor, police car, power boat, sailboat, or ski lift?
- Have you ever walked the beach or a mountain trail?
How was your experience on one of these topics related to your family culture? Learn to tie together all the interesting elements of your life story and craft them into an engaging essay.