Story and Why
Compare and Contrast in Your Lifestory
Tom Gilbert - Copyright © June 25, 2015
writing technique used in schools can be very beneficial when
approaching your life story. Using a compare and contrast
technique will provide an interesting perspective.
Comparing and contrasting things helps us see the similarities and
differences. If you apply it to an event or time in your life it may
help you to better understand and appreciate what happened and what you
are like now. This can be very important in a memoir, autobiography or
One of the ways I use this technique on a regular basis is reviewing my
journals. I’ve been keeping them for years and since about
2001 on my computer. At first I just kept my journals saved by year in
Word documents. In 2009 I started using The Journal software. With this
program I can easily go to previous journal entries from past years.
Sometimes I will look back a year, two, four or more years to see what
I wrote. I compare it to what I am journaling about now. It can be
quite revealing to look at, say the month of June in 2010, and compare
it to June of 2015. Five years ago I was back in school training to
become a teacher. This was a major career change after over thirty
years working in the radio industry.
The comparing and contrasting of past dates with present time provides
more than an insight into what was taking place in my life. It also
provides an ongoing arc to my personal history, a narrative of my own
timeline. More than that, reviewing past journal entries from the same
months in previous years also gives me perspective of my life journey.
All of us have significant life experiences, but
often the daily business of living varies little. If I compare and
contrast previous year’s entries
about the things I was concerned with it can help me spot areas that
might need some change. Maybe I was still obsessed over finding balance
in work and family life. On the flipside, I might have expressed
gratitude over life, appreciation for the good things such as family,
and the spiritual growth that has resulted from dealing with my life
Here’s another idea where compare and contrast can be
helpful. Take the example of being a parent. Nothing can be more
rewarding – or more taxing – than raising children.
If you are a parent I’m sure you know what I mean. Have you
ever spent time comparing your parenting experiences with your own
childhood? There may be good lessons you picked up from Mom and Dad. On
the contrary, you may have sworn to never do certain things your
parents did! Compare and contrast the parental styles. Consider what it
was like to be your mother or father, taking into account their
situation. Kids are kids, but times change and
cultural, economic, political, spiritual and other factors do play a
part in our upbringing.
I hope you can see from these few examples how useful a compare and
contrast technique can be for your lifestory writing.
You can read other life story articles here.