For the first time since early in my college career, I’m making a commitment to growing in my own voice. Somehow between earning a college degree, writing for publications, and entering the full-time workforce, my ability and craving to pen personal narratives fizzled.
During college, 80% of my prose was classwork, while the other 20% was reporting for my college’s newspaper. Pouring my energy into completing assignments, and meeting deadlines that would fit stylistically into the publication drained most of my creativity. When I wasn’t in the classroom, I was interning at companies trying to gain work experience while trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. During that time, I was surrounded by immensely talented people at places like Madison Square Garden, Hearst Publishing, Meredith Publishing, and MTV Networks- which are all meccas of creativity.
After college, I began working in the world of digital communications in the non-profit industry. To my delight, someone would be paying me to write content for digital platforms. I quickly realized an important lesson, – writing as the voice of a company drastically differs from scripting my own story. All of the copy had the same formula, with key buzzwords that were used for continuity throughout the brand. And the satisfaction was not the same- however it always paid the bills on the time.
At the end of my senior year, I began pitching articles based on my life experience. The exhilaration of having a well known websites like Huffington Post, USA Today College and XOJane publishing my article was addicting. Knowing that someone other than my grandmother was reading my writing was more fulfilling than anything I had ever experienced.
Over time, my urge to dedicate time to crafting my own voice dried up like a ravine suffering from a drought. My personal writing was being pushed to the side, and when I had the stamina to try to write- anxiety began to bubble up. ‘What if the editor doesn’t like it’ or ‘What if someone is offended by my writing’ began clouding my mind and paralyzed my finger. Instead of penning with my own agenda in mind- I was flattened by the pressure to be likable to strangers. Ironically, the same thing that was stalling my work was the reason why I had fallen in love with the art of writing in the first place.
Growing up, I have always been able to find solace from the writing of others. During my early years as a peculiar kids who didn’t have many friends, Ramona Quimby, Peter Hatcher and the students of Wayside School kept me company. Judy Blume and Anne Martin penned the books that consumed most of my free time during junior high.
Once I entered high school, the world of a magazines and the power of personal essays became a source of comfort and guidance. Hours were spent pouring over the glossy pages of Cosmo Girl, Twist, YM, Jane and Seventeen Magazine. Reading articles how other girls were going through the similar boy problems, acne breakouts, parental squabbles and body image issues made me less of a freak. The monthly ‘Letter from the Editor’ from Cosmo Girl’s Atoosa Rubenstein always felt like an encouragement note from the older sister I never had.
At a young age I vowed that if I ever had the opportunity, I would use my experiences to connect people. That somehow my trials and tribulations (however trivial they may be) could be worth something if it made someone else feel less isolated in their own experiences. That is the reason I have focused much of my writings on mental health awareness and coping with having a chronically ill parent.
If reading was my comfort, writing was my outlet. My childhood bedroom was littered with notebooks and pens, filled with short stories and doodles. Hours were spent sprawled across my Bullwinkle bedspread writing fictional stories, allowing my deepest desires to play out other than in my head.
Most of the time the plot featured a girl with 12 siblings in a wholesome family that becomes a superstar after being discovered playing outside of her house. That directly stemmed from the loneliness of being an only child of parents going through serious personal issues, and the fantasy that I would be plucked from my middle-school hell by a Hollywood agent who happened to be in the suburbs of Philadelphia.
During my teen years, many nights were spent pouring my heart out in my journal from Claire’s, while my CD Walkman played the soundtrack of my teenage angst (Simple Plan, Yellow Card, Eminem, Good Charlotte, My Chemical Romance-hello 2003). The words that flowed so easily from my pen were so raw and free of reservations; it was before my inhibitions began to bloom. I wonder if I will ever be able to capture that blunt narrative in my adult years. Right now I’m looking to my fourteen year old self for inspiration to grow as a writer and rekindle my passion of the personal essay.
My goal is to use this space as a platform to write freely and openly about my experiences and perspective. That maybe my voice will become clearer and creativity will trickle back into all aspects of my life again. I hope that my ramblings and musings can form a connection with readers who stumble across this. Similar to the connections that have helped me throughout my life, and the reason I wanted to become a published writer. Laugh, disagree, cry, judge, sympathize- it doesn’t matter to me. As long as you felt something- then I’m living up to my promise.