Meaningful Personal Essay Topics

Updated August 12, 2022
Woman journaling at the beach
    Woman journaling at the beach
    Westend61 / Getty Images

Writing a personal essay is a wonderful way to express yourself. It’s also great narrative writing practice – if you’ve got the right topic. Check out these ideas for writing about your own experiences in a meaningful, personal way.

Personal Essay Topics About Your Experiences

Talking about things that have happened to you can help you process them. Additionally, experience essays can show the reader insights about you that they may not have known before. See if these topics inspire you to write about your own personal experiences.

  • Write about a time you learned something from someone unexpected.
  • How did you learn to ride a bike?
  • What was the most difficult part of the 2020 quarantine for you?
  • Is your current life how you imagined it would be?
  • What was the first news event you remember hearing about?
  • Where was your favorite place to go when you were young? Why was it special?
  • Write about a time you were sure you were right – but it turned out that you were wrong.
  • Describe your favorite thing to do when you were a child.
  • Write about a food that makes you think of another time.
  • What was a stressful situation that you’ve dealt with recently?

Personal Essay Topics About You

Help your reader learn more about you with topics about your values, concerns, and priorities. Each of these topics can be adapted into formal writing prompts or inspiration for journal entries. You can also build off of what they’re asking for a more thorough writing experience.

  • What makes you a good coworker or friend?
  • Where would you like to spend a thunderstorm?
  • Could you live without technology for a week? A year? What would it look like?
  • If you could trade personality traits with someone, what would you trade?
  • How would you spend one million dollars if you had to spend half of it on yourself?
  • What is the most important item in your home? Why?
  • What could you teach someone about in a TED Talk or podcast?
  • Write about a place you always try to avoid?

Personal Essay Topics About Relationships

Everyone has people who have influenced them in their lives. What are your most important relationships? What kinds of people do you surround yourself with? Keep these questions in mind when writing your next personal essay.

  • Describe someone who taught you how to NOT do something by doing it incorrectly.
  • Write about the first friend you ever made. Have your values for choosing friends changed?
  • Who would you bring with you on a dream vacation?
  • Think about someone in your life whom you see often but don’t work or live with. What can you learn from them?
  • Who in your life started as a stranger but became a close friend?
  • Write about a time when you had a houseguest but didn’t enjoy their company.
  • Talk about someone in your life whom you have lost. How has your life changed since they’ve been gone?
  • How have you learned to get along with a difficult person in your life?

Personal Essay Topics About Dreams

Writing about what you’d love to do can make your dreams feel like reality. Personal essays about dreams for the future or fantasy situations can help readers get to know who you are. If these topics inspire you, feel free to incorporate them into your next personal essay.

  • If you could have any job in the world, what would it be?
  • Where do you hope to be in three months? Six months? One year?
  • How would you spend a weekend if money were no object?
  • Describe your dream house. What would be your favorite room?
  • What celebrity would you most like to meet? What advice would you seek from them?
  • What is something you wanted as a child but never received?
  • What would be your dream pet?
  • If you could live the life of any movie or book character, who would you choose?

Narrative Writing and Journaling

Finding inspiration for a personal essay can be as meaningful as writing the essay itself. Use these tips for crafting your personal essay in a well-structured format. You can also get kids involved in the writing process with these journal-writing exercises for kids.