Thesis Title

Fears and Reflections: Discovering Yourself Through the Personal Essay

Date of Graduation

Spring 1997


Master of Arts in English



Committee Chair

Nancy Walker

Subject Categories

English Language and Literature


This thesis includes two parts: a critical analysis of personal essay considering a second-person view of how to fearlessly write personal essays and a collection of my own personal essays. The critical element includes examples of works that I consider support my theory of reflective journal writing as initial personal essays. This second-person instruction includes putting aside one's fear of audience and fear of one's self-revelations, as well as reflecting on how these fears detract from my own personal essay writing. The majority of this thesis consists of my own personal narratives in which I discuss relationships (sibling, children, parents, neighbors) and circumstances that make me the person I am at this point in time. Each essay focuses on one idea (perfectionism, insecurity, homesickness, travel, self-centeredness) while including the middle child outlook. Each theme connects to one another by my middle child experiences, and at times, by examples of my parents' dispositions. I have attempted to share with the readers how my position in the family defines who I am as an adult and how my parents' originality joins each relationship in our family with one, small thread. It is my hope that these essays benefit each other as a collection. Contents: Fears and reflections through the personal essay -- Most everyone's in the lake -- Insecurity blanket -- Mainland girl -- Minimum losses -- Perfect fear of regrets.


© Elizabeth Ann Mitchell