Self-Characterization Sketch and/or Mirror-Writing

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Self-Characterization Sketch and/or Mirror-Writing

Please read over this example character sketch reported by a client of George A. Kelly (whom we will study later). I would like you to write such a character sketch of yourself. Write the sketch from the third-person perspective. In other words, try to "step outside" of yourself and write about yourself from another person's perspective. Of course, this "other" person is someone quite special who knows your every thought, no matter how intimate. If you are not sure where to begin, you can start out with a little background, such as, "Dr. Grice was born to a working-class family in a small town in Ohio on the banks of the Little Miami River. As a boy he had a powerful imagination and would spend hours in the woods or on the river playing out stories of Simon Kenton and Tecumseh or some epic battle from WWII. As a teenager, his interest in science took root and grew, and his mother allowed him to convert her pantry into a science lab." You should then move on to yourself as you are now. What "type" of person are you? What things in life do you value? What do you enjoy doing most, and why? What sorts of things, if any, have you been struggling with lately that are important to your identity? What have you learned about yourself from different romantic and non-romantic relationships? Do you have any quirks or things about yourself that are unusual? These are the sorts of questions you can consider while writing your character sketch.

If you still have trouble writing about yourself from the third-person perspective, here are two other strategies you can employ:

  1. Mirror writing. Sit in front of a mirror and examine your self closely. If you just met this person in the mirror for the first time, what would be your first impression? What physical features stand out about this person? Now imagine that you have intimate knowledge of this person; that is, you know this person's 'true self.' Are there features of the person's physical appearance that are consistent or inconsistent with his/her true self? Spend some time describing this person's true self. Keep looking back into the mirror as you write your sketch.

  2. Setting yourself up for a blind date. Your friend (real or imaginary), who knows you very well and who knows your most intimate thoughts, needs to describe you to a person for a blind date. Your potential dating partner really wants to know what "type" of person you are before agreeing to go on a date with you. What do you look like? What kind of family did you grow up in? What are your interests, hobbies, and values? What is your personality like? What are your dreams and aspirations?  What are your quirks or atypical features, if any? These are the sorts of things your friend needs to describe about you.

Your sketch must at least 2 pages in length, double-spaced, and typed. If you particularly enjoy writing in your own hand (as is the case with some authors and poets), your sketch must be at least 3 hand-written pages on college-ruled paper.

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