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AP Lang Essay: The Twerp in the Photo is Me

Knighted 1 / 5 1  
Nov 6, 2012   #1
This AP Lang assignment was about finding a picture of oneself and writing a reflective essay about it. I would appreciate some feedback on this essay, particularly in the fields of sentence fluency, clarity, and mechanics/usage/grammar. Any constructive criticism is welcomed.

The Twerp in the Picture is Me
As I am an only child, there are many pictures of me in existence. Nearly all of them were taken by my parents (most likely accompanied by pleas to "stand still!" and "sit up straight"), featuring me in silly, frilly dresses, with poufy hair. Some feature my parents. Some feature landmarks, or even the family cat, Xena . I like to look at them, and reminisce about the past. One among my more peculiar attributes is my ability to pull any memory, no matter how old or shady, from the recesses of my mind when prompted with stimuli that relates to them. This helps me with reflection in that it allows me to relive parts of my life, helping me learn from them. Pictures are often the perfect stimuli to expose oneself to, in hopes of remembering days long gone. Sometimes, I look at them, and wonder how sixteen years, or twelve years, or ten years, or even five years could be so long. After all, in the scope of the world that holds us, one person is a minute detail, not worth the universe's time. But yet, these pictures have such a large impact. When I look at them, I see how happy I was. Yet, I was alone in most of them, and then I feel lonely, and a bit sad. I also feel frustration in not being able to pinpoint how I used to justify my loneliness and anxiety to myself, though I remember feeling it, despite my childish happiness.

In one picture, I am sitting in my bedroom at my drawing table (salvaged from a garage sale), my hair cropped close to my head, while holding my toys close to my chest. I appear anxious, as if anticipating somebody to come clobber me with a mallet, but in reality, I was just staring at my three year old cousin (just out of the shot) apprehensively, fearing he would take my toys. I was five years old, and would not start Kindergarten for another six months. It is strange to me, that I don't recognize myself in this picture. Intellectually, I know: These are my features, my nose, my brow, my eyes, my hands. But mentally, though I share memories with this child, she is a stranger. She is distant.

In another picture, taken earlier in life, and in another house, I am two years old. I am sprawled on the ground, coloring in a Bambi coloring book. I remember being quite proud that I could color within the lines, a Godlike feat for a two year old. I am wearing a blue boy's sweater which I had insisted on buying, and which now resides in my aunt's basement. My hair is poufy and my ringlets are springy to an outrageous extent. My expression is doleful, and I glower slightly at the camera. Soon after the picture was taken, I would have my afternoon snack and spill grape juice on my boy-sweater. I can identify with this child, as opposed to the other one. This child is slightly angry, somewhat boyish, and fancies herself an artist. This child feels like a God, or perhaps a magnificent beast, one with Godlike powers and unfathomable strength. A God that ponders the world she created around her. But the child looks like a two year old coloring in a coloring book, not a God, despite feeling Godlike.

There is a picture that confuses me. I cannot remember the exact moment that it was taken. I am around four years old, and sitting in my backyard swing-set at dusk. Freshly dried leaves are scattered on the ground, and I am wearing a pink knitted jacket, indicating that it is autumn. A large tin tub is balanced against a shed that doesn't appear in the picture. Approximately ten years later, my cousins and I would attempt (and fail) to fill that same tub with butterscotch pudding. I look happy in the picture, captured mid-laugh. The dimples in my chin are prominently chiseled into my face by laughter, and my hair serves as a tassel for my head, secured by a pink bobble. Later on, when I outgrew the swing, my parents would replace the plastic seat and cloth cord with a chain and wooden seat, so that I could continue using it. The swing is a prevalent part of my childhood, and while it made me very happy, I don't understand the look of inexplicable happiness on my face. I was lonely- I had no companions until seventh grade. Why was I so happy, when I was alone, and I had nobody to share that happiness with? Perhaps it was childish naivety and ignorance. After all, ignorance is bliss, for many. Or perhaps it was because I was my own companion, not a prisoner within my own mind, but a guest.

Or perhaps I just liked swings.
Some days, I feel embarrassed to say, I have no energy to think about deeper meanings of life. Some days, I have no strength to analyze the actions of myself and my peers. Some days, I just want to sit back and admire the sky, and lie down and let the sun warm my skin. After you realize your existence in this world as a mortal, and realize the existence of others, you begin to appreciate small things like coloring books, swings, and photos. Because as a mortal, one has only one life, one must treat that life as something precious. One must cherish it, reflect on it. Whether one reflects upon a silly child thinking she is a creator and a sole entity, or whether one reflects on a simple happiness, much can be gained through reflection. Photographs are an excellent medium for reflection, because they capture what we once were, and who we once were.

mashal 1 / 19 2  
Nov 6, 2012   #2
I really enjoyed reading this essay.But don't you think it would be better to focus on just one picture? I would suggest pick the one where you're five and write about your encounter with another little human being. Or perhaps choose the one where you are four and elaborate on how this particular picture confuses you. If I were you I would stick with one picture and write a detailed account. If however you must choose more than one, don't choose more than two. Although this essay is interesting. it appears that you're jumping from one idea to another. Hope this helps :)

Let me know if you need more help and please pray for me :)
OP Knighted 1 / 5 1  
Nov 6, 2012   #3
Thank you for your feedback! It was really helpful. I hope you get into Stanford, I hear the student experience is great :)
mashal 1 / 19 2  
Nov 7, 2012   #4
can you read my essay? I've uploaded the complete essay
Martin80 - / 4  
Nov 15, 2012   #5
Things may be different in the US, but in the UK essays that say 'I and Me' are style-fails. I would talk about your subject in a dispassionate, third person style as this is more academic. Further, what stood out from the first few sentences was the stuff about your Cat. Is this relevant to a particular photo? Have you chosen a particular photo? You appear to be rambling here, in the first impression section of your paper. My advice is to answer the question directly; rather than find your direction while writing the opening lines, find it and THEN write the opening lines. There are plenty of online resources for writing Undergraduate essays out there, but by far an away the best is Amazon's best selling eBook:

Horton-Eddison "Study Skills, Essay Writing for University: The Essential Guide for Writing First Class Essays in Under 24Hours" to your PC, iPhone or Kindle.

It really does exactly what it says on the cover and costs around $3 for instant download. It has notes on structure, flow, referencing, thesis, style etc as well as what marking tutors look for and, of course, marking criteria so you can pre-mark before you submit. It's well worth a read.

Good luck in any case.

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