Major Paper #2–The Personal Narrative Essay
We will be working on the Personal Narrative essay for the next three units. The Personal Narrative will be due at the end of Unit #7.
A narrative is simply a story. A personal narrative is a true story, focusing largely on the writer’s own life.
For Essay #2, the Personal Narrative, you will be writing a short essay (at least 3-4 pages in length) about a significant event in your own life. This event need not –and probably should not–be inherently, overly dramatic. Sometimes the most influential moments in our lives are smaller moments, events that we may not recognize as influential until years after the experience. In the personal narrative essay, you will want to tell the story as accurately as you can—search your deep memory—and tell the story from your own perspective. You will also want to exercise your selectivity as a writer, choosing to summarize background information/exposition, and really dramatize important scenes for the reader.
During the course of this unit, you will want to read the examples of the Personal Narrative in Chapter 2. You will want to start brainstorming ideas for your own personal narrative, and–by the end of Unit 5–you will want to have selected a significant event that you wish to focus on in this essay.
Here is one sample personal narrative:
Even as a law breaking mischievous youth I had always looked up to Police Officers in my neighborhood. I even looked up to them when they would chase my friends and I when we snuck out at night and kicked sprinkler heads off, or got caught drinking underage. I loved to watch the show “Cops” and always pictured myself in the situations being portrayed on television. In my youth I did a lot of things that most people would look down on and police departments may shun you for, but that didn’t stop me from aspiring to join their ranks.
After serving in the military for over five years and attaining the rank of SGT (P), I was sent orders for recruiting. This was not the path I wanted my career to go down, so I opted to decline the orders. Once I had done this I was faced with a decision, what should I do now? I decided I would try to get hired at a local police department. At the time I was stationed in Manhattan, KS and had to choose between Manhattan, Salina, and Topeka. Topeka and Manhattan were testing on the same days and as fate would have it I decided to give Manhattan a try.
Having no navigational skills in the city I was first challenged in finding the testing sight for the physical agility test. The site was located at the RCPD range, which was off of Pillsbury Drive, near Pillsbury Crossing. When I arrived I was shocked to see that I would be up against forty some odd people fighting for five or six slots. Once I got out of my truck and started talking to other hopeful applicants I became worried. What was I going to do if I didn’t get hired I asked myself. I felt as though I was under qualified after finding out that 60%- 70% of the applicants had degrees in Criminal Justice. I thought for sure that college would be a major hiring point. I had come this far though and had no reason to doubt my ability to prove myself on an obstacle course.
The air was thin and cold on this particular day, making just breathing a chore. Gazing out at the course the towers were tall and a long climb, the walls were high with steep drops to the other side. Tires lined the courses isles to test your agility running through them, and at the end of the obstacle course there was a 170 pound dummy that you had to drag to a safe zone. I felt confident since I was still in the Army and was in the best cardiovascular condition in my life. The lieutenant introduced himself to the crowd and began explaining the course, at the end of his explanation and demonstration he asked for volunteers to go first. In my mind I thought it would be good to volunteer, but I had learned early on in the Army not to volunteer for anything. I held my ground and stayed back to gauge the motivated people stepping to the front. I felt as if watching them would give me an edge. I watched several individuals run through the course until it was finally my turn.
Once I stepped up to the starting line my adrenaline was pumping full blast, I felt unstoppable at that point. I had heard the fastest time was 2:09 through the course on this day and I was determined to beat it. I took off up the steep flight of stairs and down the other side simulating a chase. I felt like a wild animal closing on my prey as I hopped the fence and dropped to the other side. Next I ran through a make shift neighborhood setting and to a high wall I had to climb. Once at the top I ran down the steps and around the turnaround point. It was then that I realized how fast I was moving, I was flying through the course and hurting badly inside. I told myself that it was mind over matter and to suck it up for another 30 seconds. I ran to the shooting simulation and picked the bad guy out of the stand up targets, ran to the dummy drag and drug the 170 pounds 20 yards like a dog carries a flea on a daily basis.
Once I was at the end of the line I heard the scorer yell “2:03.” I had done it. At that point I felt as if the job were in the bag. My score got beat by a fraction of a second later in the day, but I was still proud that I was able to overcome the pain to get to the finish line. After several vocabulary tests, spelling tests, writing tests, and a few oral review boards I was hired. I lived my childhood dream of becoming a Police Officer for three years. It was a thankless job in many ways, but it was also gratifying at times. I have since moved to San Antonio and changed professions, but often reflect on some of the experiences I had. I know I wouldn’t have changed it for the world.