I read a number of books as a child, but I wasn’t introduced to actually writing creatively until sixth grade in English. We went through part of the year learning about Greek mythology, and one of our projects allowed us to create our own mythical God, draw how they looked, and write their story. I was awful at drawing as I was at writing back then, but the beginning of my mythical God, Sarah, opened up a world of possibilities for me. Her story was nothing too complex, but she was a hero, saving other Gods and mortals from death or fates worse. I think she had a power over fire, and she wore a fiery dress. It was so long ago, but it still makes me smile because I felt a sense of pride in my work.
However, my passion for writing didn’t really flourish until high school, where I made myself practice daily to get to where I am. I wanted to be a writer; it wasn’t my only passion, but I knew that I wanted it to be part of my life. The more I wrote, the more at peace I felt. This is definitely going to be cliché, but writing eventually saved me from myself and my surroundings.
Depression, as I’ve observed, is definitely a common trait among people who enjoy the arts, who pour their souls into what they’re creating, and I wasn’t immune to it. There was abuse at home, and we had moved so many times I felt a loss of friendship and connection. I felt a lack of control over myself, and my self-esteem fell lower than rock bottom. Of course, there was family I could turn to if I needed help, but I didn’t feel safe. Until the abuser left our lives, I felt imprisoned in my mind, screaming to do something about the situation, but knew even my voice didn’t have merit. She pushed me down until I felt I was nothing.
Some days, I looked at what I wrote and felt worthless. On those days, I couldn’t feel that sense of pride or purpose as I did when I was younger. That saying, “you’ll always be your biggest critic”, it is incredibly true. Looking back now, I was too hard on myself, and I know many writers have these same experiences. Don’t get me wrong—I had some good days, too. I saw progress in myself, and I felt happy with what I wrote.
Practicing, I realized, will only take me so far, and it will never give me that same satisfaction I had years ago. I still have to remind myself of that, because, eventually, you’ll have to take that leap of faith and start writing a story that matters to you, a story from the heart.
Writing from my heart, from my experiences, my dreams, and my wishes gave me the control I so desperately needed. I could create the character any way I wanted to. I could make them a superhero, like Sarah. I could give them what I wanted to see in myself, and I could give them a happy ending. I could give them lifelong friends and have them travel the world. Anything was possible. Once I realized that, I could feel that sense of purpose growing again, and writing has led me to do incredible things. I grew out of my shell, started to smile more, befriended many, and traveled.
My experiences, regardless of how painful the memories are sometimes, they allowed me to see who I am with huge amounts of help from my family. My grandmother, a wise and dearly loved woman, always stuck by my side. She inspired me to pursue an actual career in writing and never made me doubt myself. My father, whom I’ve always admired for never giving up on his own dreams, inspired me to never give up on mine. My brother and sister have always been by my side, and I would certainly not be the person I am today without their help. My mother Staci, one of the most caring people I know, for showing me what a family can be. The friends I’ve made, high school, college, from around the world, have shown the deepest connections can be from those who are far away. And the love of my life, as spontaneous as I am to travel and who shares the same love for food as I do, has shown even in the darkest of times, there will always be a light.
This is where I am today. While I only have one story published (soon to be in this journal, actually), I’ve had about five rejections. The first one is always the worst, but you become resilient on the second and so on until you are triumphant. You are your biggest obstacle, but you don’t have to overcome that alone. Once you realize that, anything is possible