For as long as I can remember, writing was my favorite outlet. When I was in first grade, I filled up more writers’ journals than anyone in my class. These journals contained everything from narratives of my family vacations, to make believe storylines about my American Girl Doll, to acrostic poems about each and every one of my friends. I would often choose to stay inside during recess to write, and even though my teachers looked at me like I was crazy, there was something so satisfying about putting pen to paper even at such a young age.Read more: Losing the writing spark
Throughout my K-12 education, this passion for writing only grew. My middle school creative writing club encouraged me to use writing as a tool of soul expression – the kind of expression that most people associate with journaling. My 11th grade teacher taught me to be intentional about every word I write, and this fairly intense scrutiny helped my rhetorical skills grow immensely. My 12th grade English teacher piqued my interest in the linguistics side of writing and implored me to keep writing past high school. These teachers had extremely high expectations of us, and they didn’t let crappy writing slide. When I realized that with a ton of hard work, I could fulfill and surpass these expectations, I grew even more sure of the gift that I had when it came to writing. The passion and knowledge that these teachers shared with me made me confident that even though I probably wouldn’t go into an English-centered career, writing would always be a part of my life. My genuine draw toward writing was the reason I created this very blog when I was a junior in high school during a time in my life when expressing myself on WordPress was the therapy I didn’t know I desperately needed.
Not only did my genuine interest in writing grow during those years, but so did the validation I received in regards to my abilities. My teachers would often ask if they could hold onto my essays to show future students. I won the English Excellence Award senior year. My SAT tutor said she had never seen someone get an SAT essay score as high as mine. This consistent validation definitely made me grow a big head about my writing abilities, but I think it was pretty warranted. I wasn’t great at every subject in high school (I would say you could ask my physics teacher as proof, but he forgot my name by my senior year, which speaks for itself), but writing was my thing.
Once I got to college, I realized I was a small fish in a very large, rhetorically-skilled pond. I go to a school with a ton of really intelligent people, and while it’s incredibly inspiring, it also is quite humbling. My friends who are STEM-oriented have created some of the most beautiful prose I have ever read, and they know how to make even an email to a professor or a discussion post sound extremely well-spoken. These friends can create extremely unique and capturing stories even if they’re doing so completely on the fly. Learning that just because I was the girl with the blog didn’t necessarily mean that my writing was the best that had ever existed was a bit jarring, to say the least. I don’t say that to sound self-deprecating, but rather to describe the feeling that I’m sure many other passionate students at my school deal with upon realizing that they are not, in fact, the shit. This feeling has caused me to look at my writing much more critically than I used to. Whether it’s an essay or a blog post, I typically second guess whether or not what I’m writing about is original enough, whether or not it’s coming from a place of ignorance, and whether or not I have the right to speak out on the topic in the first place. I question whether it’s worth writing at all and if people will read it out of genuine interest or out of a sense of obligation. I never thought twice about all of this in the past, and while this perspective shift can be somewhat healthy, I think it’s limited me a lot recently.
This annoyance with my self-inflicted limitation manifested beautifully a few weeks ago. I was getting coffee with a friend on campus before I left for the summer, and at one point in our conversation, he was gushing about how much he loved his creative writing class this past semester. Hearing the passion in his voice as he described his different pieces inspired me to chase this joy in my own life again. I don’t know what exactly recapturing it will look like, but I know that this blog is the perfect medium for doing so. While this summer is going to be crazy hectic for me, I know I can commit to prioritizing this passion of mine and consistently reminding myself why I started writing for fun in the first place. I’ve used the burnout excuse for far too long, and while there is so much value in giving yourself a well-deserved brain break, depriving yourself of a wonderful outlet out of fear or fatigue isn’t the solution either. First grade Anna never cared how impressive her pieces were or who read them – she just wanted to express herself and share her life and thoughts with the pieces of paper in front of her. If she could do it so effortlessly then, there’s no reason she can’t make it happen now.