Posted by: E (The Third Glance) | January 2, 2012

My life is like a 5 paragraph essay

“My life is like a 5 paragraph essay”

I said this to my mother one day after school. I might’ve been in 8th grade, maybe 9th. It was an epiphany I had come to based on years of consideration of my interactions with the rest of the world, especially my peers. I had been writing 5 paragraph essays in my curriculum for years – the canned essays that supposedly teach us how to communicate properly. They always have the same form:

  • Paragraph 1: Introduction – State your topic/argument (1 sentence) and then 3 supporting reasons
  • Paragraph 2: Discussion of reason #1, back up with at least 3 facts.
  • Paragraph 3: Discussion of reason #2, back up with at least 3 different facts.
  • Paragraph 4: Discussion of reason #3, back up with another 3 (at least) related (but distinct) facts
  • Paragraph 5: Conclusion, repeat your main points from paragraphs 2, 3, and 4, followed by “therefore” or “in conclusion” <main point from paragraph 1>

They’re designed to help us learn to make a solid argument, and become better communicators.

So why, you ask, is my life like a 5 paragraph essay? Because when I was growing up (and to an extent now as well), I learned that most people didn’t understand why I said what I did, and quite often, they didn’t understand what I said either. And usually they just ignored it, because if they don’t understand, why bother trying? So I got into the habit of justifying everything I said and did. I would compose a proverbial “5-paragraph essay” every time I had something to say. Then when I said or did whatever it was, I wouldn’t just say my topic sentence, but I’d give the whole 5 paragraphs. I thought that if I could just explain myself properly, people would listen to me. Everything I say or do has logic behind it, and I thought that if I made that logic clear, they would stop bullying me, and start listening, because what I had to say was important (or at least, it was important to me). The 5 paragraph essay was the “right” way to communicate, and I thought that if I mastered and used it, then people would hear me.

It’s funny – I’ve never been much good at writing 5 paragraph essays.

But if you really listen, you’ll find that I’m pretty good at getting my point across.


  1. I find that I also communicate a lot like that (I have Asperger’s). Do you ever find that people take it personally when you’re just making a point? I’ve had to stop being so um . . . assertive in my point-making because I come off as being argumentative and this is apparently not pleasant for people? Which, since it’s an argument I’m putting forth, I guess I am argumentative, but it’s not personal toward anybody.

    • Oh my gosh yes! People tell me all the time “you made your point already, give it up!” Thanks for coming to my blog! 🙂

      • ^_^ Someone linked me on Twitter or Facebook to your jury duty post. I was hooked!

  2. Oh my GOSH, that sums me up PERFECTLY! Great post!

    • I’m so glad someone else relates to this! It’s like an analytical essay being written in my head all the time. That I just HAVE to explain, in order for people to understand how I got from point A to point K… (mind, points B-J all happen in my mind…)

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