Autobiographical essayI have to write an autobiographical essay for my Human service class and the first page has to be briefly about biographical info about me. So what is a good way to start this...

Autobiographical essay

I have to write an autobiographical essay for my Human service class and the first page has to be briefly about biographical info about me. So what is a good way to start this essay off?The first sentence is giving me a lot of trouble.

Expert Answers
Lorraine Caplan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

You know, the first sentence gives many people trouble, and I often advise my students to write their content and then go back to write the introduction.  There are no rules that say you must start at the beginning, and I frequently start my writing somewhere in the middle.

However, if you feel that you cannot go on until you get that first sentence down, there are plenty of easy ways to begin.  One way is to place yourself in a historical context. For example, I might begin by saying something like, "I was born at the end of the post-WWII era." Another way is to place yourself within the context of your family, for example, "I was born into a family of four."  Still another way is to quickly convey a sense of your personality, maybe something like, "I was born shy."  Given that you only have one page to convey your autobiographical details, you will want to draw the reader in with some sense of who you are, and beginning in one of those ways accomplishes that for you.

What you do not want to do is say, "My name is..." or "This paper will discuss ..." because we do not "announce" ourselves in academic writing.  Begin with an assertion about yourself, and I do believe you will be fine.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It's very hard to know this without knowing who you are and what you think is remarkable about yourself.  If I were going to start such an essay, I would focus on something that I wanted to explain about myself and connect it to some sort of fact that explains it.  For example:

My personality and values have been shaped to a great degree by my family background and the places where I have lived.  I was born to parents of different races and grew up as an American, but in places whose cultures were very different from US culture.  This is what has made me what I am today.

From there, I could start giving the basic facts about me and my background.  That gives me an intro into who I am without simply starting "My name is .... and I was born..."

stolperia eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Sounds like you've written the piece by now, but I'll chime in for others who might be facing this same challenge.

Combining several of the previous posts, you might start your personal information by explaining, "I've always been shy. The first time I realized this was..." and then tell about an incident in which your shyness played an important role. Depending on experiences after that, your paper could relate how you have become comfortable with your shyness and how you feel it benefits you or you could tell about your efforts to become more outgoing.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It might be a cliche, but you could start by describing the situation into which you were born.  What was going on in the country?  What was your family like?  How did your parents meet?  I would also suggest describing the weather on your birthday ... It was a dark and stormy night .... :)  I consider David Copperfield the perfect model for the beginning of an autobiography ... Whether or not I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, these pages will tell. 

accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A good start would be to try and identify the main influences that have shaped you and made you into the person that you are today. A good attention-grabber might be to focus on one particular memory or story from your past that was fundamental in setting you on the course that has made you into who you are today. That would be a good and novel way of opening your paper rather than just saying "My name is... and I was born on..." Hope this helps and good luck!

bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Please do not begin with "I was born in New York City on February," etc. Try and think of an accomplishment or interesting fact about your life that you can expand upon. Since your autobio is for a Human Services class, you may try and give an example of a kind deed you have done or an idea in which you believe. I'm sure the following posts will give you some additional ideas for a starter.

Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Another approach to start with might be your first, earliest memory and what that incident says about you, because, presumably, the first memory you have marks some important point in your development or in the expression of your development. Then you could go on from there with the more factual early information.

afillingame | Student

Thank you all for your advice.. I went with starting it off with my personality which is a very shy personality! And then said some things that help me to warm up and not be as shy.