‘How would you describe yourself?’
For most people, this is a highly dreaded question.
If you’ve ever gone to a job interview, created an online profile, or simply needed to introduce yourself to a bunch of strangers, you will be familiar with the anxious scrambling for words that somehow should resemble your inner world.
Talking or writing about yourself can feel like a strenuous task.
But it can also be a very cathartic experience.
When you talk about your experiences, opinions, personality traits... in a poetic form, you give yourself an opportunity for insights that you never knew existed.
To write a poem about yourself, you really need to be ready to meet You.
And that’s not always easy, yet eternally worthwhile.
When you write poems about yourself you are forced to be methodic in your exploration.
Since poetic forms of expression require you to take a good look at your inner being while you disentangle your thoughts about yourself into short, direct sentences.
If you think about it, a lot of poetry is autobiographical.
When poets are not writing about their own identity, they are writing about their life experiences, memories, and personal views of the outside world.
Why? In search of understanding.
As humans, we are meaning-seeking creatures.
Hence, the question ‘why’ becomes central to our lives.
And when you can find an answer that satisfies you, you can begin to accept and empathize with other people, the things that happen, and primarily -- yourself.
To write a poem about self and identity is to begin discovering your ‘why’.
Introspective poems bring you closer to your life’s purpose, help you decipher why you do the things you do, and allow you to grab hold of the deeper patterns of your own behavior.
Launching an investigation deeper into these aspects will help you know what to write in a poem about yourself.
So, where can you begin your creative self-inquiry?
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Poems about yourself don’t have to always speak to the personal characteristics that are familiar to you.
Many behaviors we exhibit, and even character traits that define us, are unconscious.
They are the habits you learn from society, the patterns you pick up from your family, friends, or your own routines, and they are coping mechanisms based on past experiences.
Sometimes, you don’t know why an unfinished ice cream on the pavement tugs at your heartstrings, or why a friend calling you ‘endearing’ sends you into a hairsplitting rage.
Being left in the dark by your own mind can have dire consequences.
When you don’t understand your patterns, thoughts, and emotions, it may lead to feelings of confusion, disempowerment, and even depression.
As well as, disconnect you from your true essence.
So when you start thinking about how to introduce yourself in a poem, first ask: why you do things, the way you do things?
Writing about your personal experience with events, people in your life and your reactions to them cultivates self-awareness.
And as a result, this newfound knowledge gives you power. To make decisions. To grow. To be free.
Writing prompt: Think of a recent reaction you weren’t expecting from yourself. What does this reaction reveal about your deeper priorities, perspectives on life, and true values?
It is easier to write a poem about yourself when you know the reason why you want to write it.
Deciding on a topic or a theme could be crucial in guiding you when you first sit down to write.
Writing about yourself could be part of your self-love practice. Where you explore what you like about yourself, the qualities you admire, even a love letter to your mind, body, or spirit.
Or it could be about reflection on a challenge you’ve recently overcome that highlighted for you the kind of person you are.
Maybe you want to observe your behavior in some situations a bit closer.
The exploration of a particular memory, a past conversation, or a dream becomes a magnifying glass for inspecting how the ‘inner world you’ manifests together with ‘the outer world you’.
Writing Prompt: What has been a question someone asked you that you enjoyed giving an answer to. What question do you always want people to ask you about but you’re disappointed when they don’t?
No one has been exactly what you’ve been through.
Doesn’t matter if they were in the same room as you, they sat right beside you, or even if they’re your clone.
The reason being: no one has access to your unique perspective.
So, if you want to share your true essence with the world, sometimes it’s not about listing your qualities or achievements.
It’s about demonstrating the actions that made you into who you are today. Sharing a story of perseverance in the face of adversity.
Or showing the small steps you take each day that eventually lead to immense personal growth.
We get to know characters in a book by learning about their thoughts, actions, and words. So, make yourself the main character of your autobiographical poem.
Writing prompt: Remember a time where you felt empowered, a situation that reassured you of who you are and made you believe in yourself, even if just for a moment.
Oftentimes, we rely on what others have to say about us.
Whether you agree or disagree with a particular label, it can still guide you in getting to know your true self a little better.
Asking yourself questions is the best way to get a deeper insight:
This way your identity will start to come together and you can begin to form poetic lines that identify you.
Answering questions about yourself is also a good opportunity to start to use imagery.
Create your own metaphors for the qualities you want to describe: optimistic → to see that thorns have roses, open-minded → pilgrim soul, tough, strong → firebird.
The imagery in visual poems has the ability to make the unseen part of you clearly visible.
Writing Prompt: One way to understand things is through comparison. But to eliminate any qualifying elements and focus purely on evaluation, ask yourself this:
What do I do differently from other people? How am I the same as others? What do my friends have to say about me?
Writing poetry is not just about self-expression, it is also a tool for healing.
Expressing difficult emotions, even to yourself, can prove to be a struggle.
Our brain’s ancient survival system has a tendency to suppress any negative feelings such as fear, worry, uneasiness.
But those heavy-to-hold feelings are part of what makes up your true nature.
The reason certain events evoke emotions, and others leave you stone-cold, can say a lot about who you are, your experiences, and your vision of the world.
In behavioral psychology, fears uncover more than just an aptitude for survival.
For example, a fear of snakes represents a person with strong protective instincts and a tendency to stand up for others.
Whereas fear of public speaking unveils a perfectionist personality, and fear of darkness can symbolize creativity and an ability to see what’s not always obvious.
Writing visual poems that explore strong emotions gets you in touch with sentiments you didn’t even know you had.
Writing prompt: Describe a situation/event that made you extremely afraid/sad/angry. Explore the reasons behind the strong emotions you felt at the time. How did you deal with the situation? What do these emotions say about you?
Begin shaping your words into a poetic form by using your 5 senses. Pick up on the small details with descriptions of sound, sight, smell, touch, and taste.
A study by the Harvard University Neuroscience Lab found that self-disclosure is inherently pleasurable.
The researchers observed the brain activity of individuals talking about themselves, discussing their personality traits and opinions, compared to talking about others.
What they found was: when talking about yourself, you enter into states of motivation and start to experience pleasurable emotions.
These states were achieved whether or not someone else was listening. Which proves introspection to be cognitively rewarding.
Creative writing very much becomes a kind of therapy. And makes self-disclosure intrinsically important to your mental health.
So write about what feels good to you:
You can reveal your characteristics by describing your reaction to an event, memory, or dream.
You don’t have to express individual personality traits to describe yourself unless you want to.
And you can intuitively find the words that feel good. Since your inner being already knows you very well.
All you need is to create an opportunity to listen.
Writing prompt: Engage yourself in a sentence stem exercise. Complete the following sentences with whatever feels natural and true to say:
“Some say I am…”
“I am someone who…”
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Adventurous by nature, Valery has been a world wanderer for many years.
Her journey started in Russia, transitioned to the UK, and now she discovers a sense of home in nations all around the world.
She moves beyond borders - learning, participating, finding inspiration and familiarity in diverse cultures she’s had the joy of living in.
When not chasing adventures and out-of-the-comfort zone experiences, she explores the wonders of language and its impact on the self, the world, and interpersonal communication.
She never ceases to seek opportunities for self-development and to contribute to a brighter future for the world around her.
You can discover some of her experiences on https://medium.com/@valeryvoyager