Writing — The Only Constant In My Life
How stringing together words has helped me find courage and my sense of self
One of the best things I knew as a kid, was to receive new pens and journals. There was something about the endless possibilities of a book full of blank pages that excited my young heart. I would create stories and rich narratives, letting my imagination run wild while developing characters and dialogue.
Other times, I would write about the people in my life, about the things that happened throughout my day and the boys I liked to chase at recess. I still get excited when I stroll past my neighborhood's pen & paper store. I have to restrain myself from pressing my nose up to the window in order to admire the fountain pens and delicate stationery.
As gelly rollers became popular in the late ’90s, I worked hard on perfecting my handwriting so I could make good use of the glittered ink now at my disposal. I had always admired my mom's handwriting and the way she so intricately looped her cursive l's.
She was always absent-mindedly doodling letters and words in her notebook when she was on the phone, and for me, being an adult meant having beautiful loopy handwriting, so I wanted to be just like her.
As I grew into a teenager, my writing took place on a more digital platform and became a place to escape the familial drama going on at home. I now had a computer of my own and could write my own Harry Potter fan fiction, imagining my own narratives of what the boy-who-lived got up to in the meantime between books. (The wait for the next Harry Potter book was excruciating and the struggle was real).
I kept a diary on and off, but never consistently until the past few years of my life as hardship after hardship threatened to sink me. Writing has helped me through some exceptionally tough times. It's been there for me when I've been in the throes of clinical depression, riding the waves of anxiety and when I've experienced extreme heartbreak.
Something about the process of putting pen to paper is extremely therapeutic and is an amazing aid in processing thoughts and emotions. Sometimes concepts and words pop up on paper that I never would've consciously considered until they appeared on paper before me.
Nowadays, writing has become a part of my professional life as well. When I started out in my current position about nine months ago, some of my first tasks were to write articles for the company blog.
I was TERRIFIED, as I had never written for anyone else to see. I second-guessed myself a lot and became that annoying newbie that asked her colleagues to double-check her work. I treated these articles as they were up for the Pulitzer Prize itself.
I had to learn to drop my personal tone of voice and figure out how to put on what I call my “boss bitch” hat in order to speak the corporate language that my company and clients demanded of me.
Articles need to be written for clients in the two languages I am fluent in, e-mails need to be written out in a professional manner, videos are subtitled, and I've been working on an e-book about employer branding for my company's e-book archive. Who would've thought my first book would be about employer branding?
Sometimes, it's hard to get home from work and open my journal after a whole day of clacking away on my keyboard, writing things for other people, about topics that I'm not all that passionate about. I started to resent putting words together in the written form. I would procrastinate and put school assignments, work assignments and my own personal writing off in favor of, ironically enough, reading other people's work.
I've since learned, through my own experience and from other writers on Medium, that you just have to do it. The words aren't always going to come easily. Your skill isn't always going to be top-notch when you start out as a writer, especially while writing words for the first time that others are going to read.
Medium has become an arena to challenge myself and develop my craft, to learn and to grow in the way I string together words into a sentence.
I've been a longtime reader of Medium but never felt compelled to share my personal experiences for others until the first anniversary of my most painful breakup with the man I thought I was going to build a life with.
Taking the leap from writing for myself to sharing my uttermost vulnerable experiences, was mildly put, intimidating.
But, then I remembered all of the times I felt so alone, all of the time I thought that “I must be the only person who has ever felt this way” and I became motivated to share, hoping to lessen that feeling for others.
Becoming active on Medium and inviting others to bear witness to my journey has been an experience in itself. It's caused me to think about the things in my life that I had long forgotten, like my time as a mean girl.
That essay was a hard one to write, as it forced complete transparency with both myself and others who read it about the person I used to be; but it also helped heal the shame I had been carrying with me for so long. Writing once again became the trusted companion that I could count on to help me process and move on from adverse experiences.
Writing has always been there for me in a way that other people couldn’t. I used to think it was impossible to love myself, to show up for myself, because how do you show up for yourself when you are yourself?
But, I’ve realized that writing is one of the greatest acts of self-love there is. By taking the time to put pen to paper (or fingertips to keyboard) and express your innermost thoughts and emotions, you’re taking time to sit with yourself, to show up for yourself, to love yourself and all of your experiences in life: both the good and bad.
Without self-reflection, personal growth becomes stagnate. If you can't take time to work out the lessons you've learned, then how will you avoid making the same mistakes again? Writing demands vulnerability as any other art form does, and you have to be able to be naked in your truth as you examine the fundamentals of who you are and where you've been.
A lot of things have changed throughout my thirty years. A broken home, a move to another country, heartaches, illness, and other unexpected hardships; but the one thing that has remained constant, the one thing that has remained true in my life is the process in creating pieces of personal art by use of twenty-six letters.
As one of my childhood heroes wrote :
“I can shake off everything as I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn.”
— Anne Frank