What is a personal essay, anyway? Is it always written by a woman? Is it about love? Addiction? Finding cat hair in your vagina? Can the personal essay be happy or is it always sad? Does the personal essay’s main person need to learn something in the personal essay or can they still be the same at the end? Is the personal essay too personal or is it essential to literature or is it over?
In this essay about personal essays, I invite you to consider them with me. Ask yourself: Are personal essays good or bad? Right or wrong? Happy or sad? Smart or stupid? Full or empty? Long or short? Hot or cold? Bold or meek? Edward or Jacob? Sweet or sour? Pretty or plain? Drunk or sober? War or peace? Right-side up, or upside down? Perfect for a pandemic, or perfectly useless?
Will men like my personal essay if it’s about pooping or periods or having babies? Will white people like it if it’s about not them? Can a personal essay be about being extremely hot, or rich, or well-traveled, or all three? Will my boyfriend ever bother reading my personal essays even when he’s in them? Hi Jay, are you reading this? No? Okay.
One thing I’m not willing to debate is that the best personal essays are one of three things: (1) personal essays ahead of a recipe for making Génoise sponge cake, (2) personal essays that are also Notes App apologies, (3) my personal statement that got me into college.
Perhaps this essay on personal essays actually counts as a personal essay and I’ve spoiled my point? Still with me? Good.