The Value of Self-Reflection: A Modern Day Twist on an Age-Old Concept

Emma Havighorst ‘16

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When was the last time you reflected on your actions?

Many people comment on how teenagers do not self-reflect nearly enough. There have been countless studies proving this idea, including the most recent Reason-Rupe Poll which displayed that 65% of adults (out of 1000 polled) believe that people aged 18-29 are entitled. These results build up the idea that this generation is truly as self-absorbed and needy as it is accused of being, because its people become so focused on themselves but don’t ever reflect on their actions.

However, there is an underlying fact that adults and researchers sometimes miss. Despite the fact that teenagers usually don’t write diaries anymore, they can self-reflect through other mediums. Diaries are not common in the busy, technology-filled lives that teenagers lead because they find it difficult to make the time to sit down and reflect with a piece of paper and a pen.

If you’re at a loss for expressive ways to reflect that don’t absorb free time, consider less “conventional” forms, such as visual art, performance art, blogging, and vlogging. The benefit in artistic and Internet-based reflection modes is that while they are not directly meant for self-reflection, it happens naturally through the creative process.

Visual arts and performance arts such as music and dance provide the artist with a unique opportunity to express his or her personality, feelings, or just about anything he or she finds important through his or her work. In the moment of creation, the artist expresses what he or she feels, honestly and genuinely representing his or herself. Looking back on old artwork or performances can provide an artist with a physical look into the past to revisit the feelings, situation, or beliefs that his or her art was focused on.

Catherine Metcalfe ‘16 adds that “outlets such as art, dance and music always help me express my feelings. Though words can get a point across, motions or pictures can almost speak louder. These outlets also let me release stress and overall let me rejuvenate after a stressful week.”

Therefore, on top of the ability for future self-reflection, art allows release and reflection in the moment, which is preferable for many people.

The more modern forms of self-reflection consist of blogging and vlogging, amongst others. The difference between the typical methods of self-reflection and the Internet is that the whole world can see blogs or vlogs that are posted online. The most positive aspect of this public forum comes into play when an objective third party can comment on the poster’s life and give an outside perspective. Take caution when reading comments, though, because they can turn negative very easily. This is the risk of using the Internet for self-reflection purposes, but in the end it serves the same purpose as all other forms, which is to allow for current and future reflection.

At the end of the day, all that matters is that people learn about themselves over time and improve overall, both emotionally and mentally. Of course, there is always the bonus of entertainment derived from reading old diary pages or old blog posts. Oscar Wilde elaborated on the subject, remarking, “I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read on the train.”

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The Value of Self-Reflection: A Modern Day Twist on an Age-Old Concept