Personal Life Map
The life of a person, primarily young people, can be understood through the use of graphic representation. This essay aims to elaborate on how the life of a person can be illustrated graphically. The article will focus on a personal life map, which is one of the ways through which the life of a person can be visualized. In the essay, the theoretical part of a personal life map is highlighted before the representation of a life map is developed to create an understanding of what a life map is all about. The significance of visuals methods at understanding the life of a person is highlighted. Finally, the justification of the methods used in coming up with the life map of the young girl is carried out. Through the essay, personal life is expected to be understood more through the use of a graphical approach.
Conceptualizing ‘Personal Life’
According to Morgan (2011), the term ‘personal’ is used to depict the ownership of something. In ordinary life situations, ‘personal’ is used to denote that a particular thing belongs to a given person. The way people relate to given circumstances in life, for example, the social relationships, situations, and other objects as ‘personal,’ is the reason for the characterization of the person, and the reference creates a meaning to the person (Smart, 2007, p. 28). Personal life, according to Smart (2007), can only be defined in relation to the relationship depicted by the person and the circumstances happening in his or her daily life. For this reason, personal life is said to be linked to the social setup in which the person under discussion belongs.
Both interrelationships in the life of a person, be it in the public or private sphere, plays a role in defining personal life. Through the understanding of their own life, one can understand both the life of the person under discussion as an individual and also the comprehension of the patterns of the society in which the person dwells is created. In the community, many factors have an impact on how people live, and these are also understood through a personal life map of the people belonging to that society (May 2011). Of importance to this study is the relationships that happen daily in the life of a person as they form a crucial part of personal life. As people interact in society, various intimacy patterns which are embodied and emotional are created. These intimacy levels, together with relatedness on the way a person feels towards others, play a critical role in determining whether a person will be allowed in the personal life of another or not. For this reason, the choices made in private life have been observed to be interlinked and relational (Davies, 2015; May 2011).
For a long time, the nuclear family and the various relationships in the life of a person have been the core of understanding personal life (Smart, 2007). However, as time went by, multiple changes have taken place within the family set up, and this has led to the development of various relationships apart from the two that had been in existence initially (Lewis, 2001). For this reason, a family has an essential role in elaborating on personal life as there exist various relationships at the family level, examples being parent-children relationships, kin relations, pets, and friends (Smart, 2011). For this reason, the incorporation of the various links at the family level means that peoples’ biographies and intimacies will be useful at understanding personal life.

Children and Personal Life
Children are very different regarding their perspectives and building relationships. Children mingle and associate with anyone who enters their space. Expressions of kindness, trust, and humility are witnessed when children interact with friends, family, neighbors, and pets, and these expressions help in shaping the child’s personality over time (Elden, 2013).
Children will process everything around them as they cannot distinguish good and evil. Therefore, children should be exposed to positive environments where they will learn to develop their personal life and be optimistic (Morgan, 2011).
Uses of Visual Methods
In most circumstances, it becomes difficult to fully understand a person’s life if only verbal expressions are used. For this reason, visual methods are adopted to enhance the understanding of the hidden information within a person’s consciousness, which increases the perception of personal life (Finch, 2007). Children are always elicited to elaborate more about themselves if they see pictures, and this, therefore, means that if images and other drawings are used when researching with children, more information will be gathered as compared to the use of interviews alone (Mason, 2006).
A personal life map is visually appealing because it summarizes one’s life. Through a life map, children can reveal various people, events, and activities related to their young lives. As a result, they can express their feelings, experiences, and fears, and hopes. A graphical representation is, therefore, helpful as it reduces the intensive process of researching while maintaining a detailed analysis of personal life (Finch, 2007).
“An individual can understand the relationship between one and the other through the use of the map as a visual tool, and it is easy to identify one from the other” (Chamberlayne, Bornat, & Wengraf, 2000). The geographic representation reveals the type of relationship one has with the significant other according to the map. Children can see their social world by associating with people and events surrounding them. It helps them distinguish strong relations from weak ones through the personal life map (Gillies, 2003).
A personal life map is meant to draw together as many aspects of private life as possible. Therefore, it makes for a good start for a candid conversation whereby it is easier to connect events, friends, activities, pets, and good and bad memories. The visual method, therefore, makes it easier to connect minds, which reminds the person and the family of their background (Gillies, 2003).
Personal Life Map

The personal life map above is about a young girl named Brenda. She is currently 19 years old. The map was from 2001 when Brenda was born. The most crucial events that transpired in her life within that timeframe are illustrated in the life map. Her social life has been interconnected such that the events in her life have an impact on each other. This interconnection has been vital as it has created a constellation of Brenda’s relationships with the various people with whom they associate in the society (Jamieson, 2005).
The map is designed in a way that links most of Brenda’s memorable events from birth to 2014 in the form of the eco-map that was used by McCormick (2008). The map is designed in a way that the events are enclosed in one place to illustrate the relationship between life events in Brenda’s personal life (Connolly, 2016). A person’s life events are interrelated in a way that they can lead to a well-developed life map for graphical representation.
The different aspects of life relationships have been represented on the life map and explained using a key. The individuals have been connected using arrows that have been designed as either one-sided or two-sided to depict different meanings. Moreover, the lines making up the arrows differ in boldness, and this illustrates a different theme in the relationship. Bold lines are used to show strong relationships, while dotted lines indicate weak relationships. Furthermore, colors have been used differently on the life map with the blue color showing positive feelings to the relationship while the red color indicates the negative feelings. The various aspects of personal life discussed in the module have been represented by the way the arrows and the lines have been designed, and the design of lines and arrows also reduces the use of multiple symbols on the map.

Finally, the map can be interpreted to mean that all the challenges facing Brenda are as a result of the relationship between her parents. She is living with the hope that one day her parents will reconcile, and she will have a happy life like that of other children. From her reasoning, the idea of post-divorce relationships is created. People who divorce while having children together will always have some links based on the bond that has already been established. It is for this reason that Brenda is still anticipating a reunion between her parents.
Memory is another component that affects the relationships among people. In this context, memory is used to denote the ability to remember, especially past relationships (Smart 2007, p. 38). People, especially children, tend to maintain their relationships even after they migrate through the keeping of the memories (Elden, 2015; Davies, 2015). The relationship between people depends on how close they are to one another (James, 2013). Brenda has moved between Canada and the United Kingdom, and in doing so, she has been able to either maintain or end the connection they had with some of the people she used to interact within those countries. It depends on the strength of the relationship they had with the people in various countries. The use of circles around the individuals was used on the map to show the geographical relationship between Brenda and the other people around her. On the other hand, the distance between Brenda and other individuals on the paper shows the relational connection between Brenda and the person on the map.
Various relationships have been given different meanings in the module. To achieve this on the map, different colors have been used within the shapes showing each person. People who are biologically related to Brenda have ben shown on the map using a blue color. There are these people recognized by Brenda as a family, but in the real sense, they are not related by blood, and these people have been represented in purple color. From this understanding, it is clear that children have ‘families of choice’ within their personal lives (Weston, 1991). Lastly, on the map, the relationships developed by Brenda with the people in the various institutions she has been through have been represented by indigo color as these types of relationships are seen to be formal and essential to a person’s daily life.
Embeddedness and relatedness are vital features that guided the development of the life map. Embeddedness is used to depict real relationships among people, and it denotes the opposite of individualism (Smart, 2007, p. 43). In this case, Brenda, having migrated between the two countries, she is seen to be embedded in various relationships introduced to her in both Dubai and the United States. In contrast, relatedness holds that people are related in various ways, either through blood ties or legal connections (Smart, 2007, p. 49). The relationship between people is affected by their proximity. As a result, the life map incorporated the relocation of Brenda to Dubai and the US to show the illustration of friendship (Gillies, 2003). This is deliberately used to denote how personal social circumstances affect biographies. The directional approach created in the way the life map has been developed is intended to illustrate the events occurring in Brenda’s life.
While developing the life map, categorizing the events and how they relate to the child were the main challenges. To better understand the origin of these relationships and their link, they were supposed to be classified so that the purpose of the events and how they relate with each other can be understood (Smith, 2014). The response of a person to the various events is also an essential factor in life, and depicting it in this life map was also challenging.
Moreover, the life map could also not visually determine the level of closeness of the girl to various events, as a good map should (May 2011). For instance, one cannot determine the level of closeness or affection between the girl and the various events. The visual illustration is a critical element of any life map; it enhances others’ understanding of an individual’s life.
Graphical representations of personal life are crucial to understanding the various life aspects of a person. A person’s life keeps changing as a result of multiple dynamics (Edwards, Mauthner, & Hadfield, 2005). Various elements can be included in a graphical representation of a person’s life, as shown in this essay. People intending to develop future life maps can use the challenges highlighted in this paper and focus on the limitations so that they can come up with well-elaborated life maps.

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