Why losing objectivity is fascinating but also overwhelming

For my re-purposing project, I’m attempting to transform an academic argumentative essay into a personal narrative. Last year, I wrote an essay outlining the rampant corruption throughout the banking industry. When I made an argument, such as ‘Bank needs to embrace more social responsibility’, I made sure to support it with compelling evidence. In this academic genre, I attempted to maintain objectivity by creating a universal argument that was independent of my personal experiences. Every argument was supposed with evidence, and every piece of evidence was discussed in depth. As a stereotypical ‘left-brain’ thinker, I am very comfortable with this genre.

I’ve recently begun the first draft of my personal narrative. This new piece will attempt to explore how my academic view on banking actually affects my personal behavior. Despite not really being interested in banking, I can’t stop myself from networking with banks in pursuit of potential summer internships. I’ve been asking myself the following question for weeks: ‘If I don’t like the banking culture, and I believe banks have demonstrated poor social responsibility in the past, why am I still setting up networking calls with people that work at banks?’ I legitimately have no idea what the exact answer to this question is. I know it involves a combination of pride, prestige, selfishness, and not wanting to turn down potential opportunities. But I can’t really explain my behavior completely, because there seems to be a divide between my personal beliefs and my pre-programmed desire to act in my best interest. Unlike the academic context, I don’t actually know all the answers to the questions I’m posing in the personal narrative. I think this is fine, as it would be naive to address subjective issues with complete objectivity. But it’s still uncomfortable to write, as I usually embrace objectivity in my writing. The goal of my piece is to provoke thought on the topic, and therefore I’m planning to ask more questions than I answer. By exploring my motivations, I’m hoping my audience will ask themselves the same questions and think more deeply on how their personal and professional ideals intersect. So I’m content with my planned style, but I still feel apprehensive to stray from the topic-evidence-discussion that has been drilled into my head from an early age.

Questions for my blog group:

  • Have you written more open-ended pieces before that didn’t grant the audience complete closure on the topic? How did you approach them?
  • Are there any personal narratives you’ve read that have really resonated with you? What helps you connect and empathize with the author?

One thought to “Why losing objectivity is fascinating but also overwhelming”

  1. Hi Jacob,

    When you proposed this topic before we split into new blog groups, I was excited to see the direction you would go with it. The topic is so intriguing to me because I find corruption fascinating, and it is not difficult to believe that it is rampant in the baking industry.

    As for your narrative, it seems as if you are trying to convey the logic behind your inner-conflict regarding accepting a position at an investment banking firm. I think it will draw the reader in to potentially switch off your position paragraph by paragraph, like two separate personalities, in order to convey your struggles. Just an idea.

    In terms of pieces that are open ended, most of my posts on my personal blog are open ended. I often start which broad questions that are bothering me, and often when I get to the end of the post I still have no concrete answer. I usually finish the piece with acknowledging that at this time this issue is unresolved but I hope that in the future, the issue at hand will disappear, and the things that we can do right now in order to try to make that happen. Even though you have not exactly closed your question, you have left the reader with some optimism.

    Personal narratives, which I encounter mostly in novel form, are my favorite genre because I am able to identify with most of them so well. This does not mean that I have experienced what the characters have experienced or even that I have a similar thought process, most often these narratives resonate with me because of how authentic the writing is, and the character’s honesty and realness. So in your case, in order to resonate with your reader I suggest conveying your raw emotion on the subject, and your no-bullshit thoughts because even if the reader doesn’t agree with your ideas, this is what will allow them to empathize with your position.

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