Your greatest fears may consume all your thoughts. And you don’t know what to do. [image drawn by me]
One of my favorite decorations from my room is a poem I wrote when I was five years old. It’s an atrocity. There is incorrect grammar and hardly any adjectives. But every time I look at it, I can’t help but feel prideful in my interest in writing from an early age. Over the next few years, this interest pushed further. I developed a book in a composition notebook I had, revolving around a “mystery box” that took anything close to it and put it into a vortex. I even decided to draw pictures on each page of the story.
My reading was starting to expand further out as well. Although I was (and still am) a slow reader, I would love reading fiction novels, such as the Magic Tree House series and the Warriors series. However, it seemed that my family had a different idea of what I should be reading. I had to start reading children encyclopedias and fact books, as I was told it would be good for me. But, of course, as a young child, I disagreed.
As I grew into my middle school years, reading became less and less of a priority. Chess, piano, and academics began to take center stage, and reading felt like a time-waster. I lost touch with my taste for fiction, and gradually grew to only read school-assigned novels for nothing more than obligation.
However, through this time, my writing continued to shine through. I kept on writing. Even if it was an essay for obligation, I enjoyed the act of writing. I even started to keep journals. I look back on those journals and laugh at what I used to be. It’s a good way of reliving old experiences. The stories, essays, and journal entries I wrote were all so joyful. It really felt like I was living life to the fullest.
High school came, and priorities again shifted. I pushed chess and piano even further up, trying to become even better. It was high school that reading jumped back into my life, but it had changed. The encyclopedias and factual books I had once loathed became the only things I liked reading. The sheer amount of facts and knowledge that were in these types of sources was overwhelming, and I wanted to know all of it. My search for knowledge helped to resurrect my love for reading, and I often wonder what would’ve happened had my parents not forced such nonfiction upon me.
While high school started off well, the last two years were some of the worst years I’d ever experienced. There was so much emotion and adversity that I felt overwhelmed with sadness and anger. But above all else, I was afraid. Afraid I was going down the wrong path. Afraid I was making the wrong decisions. Afraid I was becoming someone who would be shunned as a failure. I didn’t know how to cope with it all. But writing offered its beautiful hand to me, and I took it. Those two years were some of my busiest years for writing. Even when I felt like I didn’t have time, I’d make time for writing. I’d pour everything into the story. But my methods changed. I didn’t put myself in those situations; I put in empty names instead. My stories began to take a dark turn. They were about nothing but failure, arrogance, gluttony, betrayal, and all things I was afraid of. By creating stories around these fears, I felt I was stomping them down in a strange way. I wrote story after story, always trying to qualm these fears. And my writing improved immensely from this experience. Teachers and counselors would read my writing and be impressed with how I conveyed my message. I was becoming extremely proud of my work, and I wanted to write more.
But I also struggled with creating more. When I put my first depressing story into the school’s magazine, my friends approached me with praise. But mixed in, they expressed how my story made them feel more empty. I didn’t want that. Senior year, I struggled with whether I should submit my writing again. Did I want for others, some who were very young, to feel the same emotions I did? As I continue to write, one question still lingers in my mind: “Who am I writing these stories for?”
I’m not letting that question stay rent-free in my mind for much longer. It will be answered.