Take a Minute to Reflect

If you weren’t aware, we’re living through a global pandemic. It’s definitely been a rough time adjusting to our new normal, but we are also in a unique position. It’s on us– every single person– to remember what happened this year. I am a bit of an optimist (I practically live in the silver lining), but this is simultaneously the hardest time we’ve faced as a society in quite a while, and also one of the few ways our entire planet has been unified. I mean, how often can a person in Kuwait relate to someone in Moscow? Not very often, I’d imagine.

We need to record what occurred this year, not just in terms of government or social organization, but also as individuals. How has your thinking changed over the past year? What helped you adapt? How have we become more resilient?

And that is where reflective writing comes in.

What is reflection?

Well, the definition is different for everyone, but I like to think of it as taking a minute to think about and process your current situation. Reflection forces you to think about your response to new situations, experiences, or events.

I am a huge proponent for reflection. Not for random assignments or irrelevant experiences necessarily, but thinking about my life really helps ground me and help me understand myself a little better.

Okay, so what is reflective writing?

Essentially, you just write your reflections out. My brain can get cluttered easily if I have to hold all of my information in it. Writing out what I am thinking, helps me make sense of the mishmashed stream of consciousness I have in my brain.

Everyone’s reflections are different. Some may just document their responses to new experiences, events of information. Others like to communicate their thoughts and feelings in depth. Some use it to gain clarity of their experiences and others just write to reinforce their communication skills.

Reflection isn’t just conveying information or writing an essay. You don’t have to sound smart– just sound like yourself!

How does it work?

There are usually three areas that are the core of any reflective piece: description, interpretation, and outcome.

In the description section, just explain what happened. Use as much detail as you want.

Next, in interpretation, focus on specific parts of the experience. Did you have good or bad experiences? How did your views change over time? What was going through your head? What were your reactions?

Finally, think about the outcome. What could you have done differently? Do you have any regrets? How might you change your actions in the future?

Generally, these pieces come naturally when you are reflecting, but it can be nice to look at these guiding questions if you get stuck.

Why now?

This is the most important piece for me. You don’t have to reflect every single day. People are plenty busy already; it can be hard to get into the routine of writing every day.

But right now, specifically during this pandemic, it can be helpful to step back and treat this as a learning experience. Down the road, you can look back and reminisce on your own thoughts and see how you’ve grown. More so, it is our duty as people to record current events for people to come. Why should journalists be the only ones recording our history? Every one of us plays a part in the You might be even used as a primary source to remember the pandemic 50 years from now!

For me, the best part is looking back at the things I had written. Even the writing of Sonia from a couple of weeks ago reminds me of how I’ve gotten a little smarter and stronger every day.

About the Author

Sonia Birla is a senior at Enloe High School, where she is part of the National Honor Society and German National Honor Society. She is also the president of her school’s Graphic Design Club. Outside of school, Sonia is the president of a Cary-based non-profit called DOC NC, Dedicated to Our Community of North Carolina. Through DOC NC, Sonia began The Legacy Project, a task in which youth interview senior citizens to hear and document their stories for future generations. She is also a youth ambassador for HumSub, another local nonprofit organization. On the weekends, Sonia is at Sanskar Academy, a local Hindu Sunday school where she teaches elementary students. Sonia is also a judiciary co-chair in the Youth Legislative Assembly and is the Nigerian Partnership Chair in an international business internship. Over the summer of 2020, she had two social media internships with Paper Bridges and Mantra and Co.. She has published two short stories in “A Window to Young Minds”, a short story compilation. She loves writing, designing, photography, film-making, and politics.

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