So it’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything to do with something besides eating disorders or mental illness in general. While these things are still very important to me, they’re not the only things that matter greatly to me.
From when I was little, I have loved stories. Before bedtime I would ask for a story, and eventually started making them up on my own. As I grew older, I started writing and illustrating my own miniature comic books and writing pieces filled with fantastical characters, magic, and love.
I voraciously read books, too. I was fascinated by these worlds that authors created out of nowhere; these people and experiences that they conjured up and made as real and plain as the nose on my face. And though I considered taking other directions with my life, my biggest passion and first love was and always has been literature, be it enjoying it or writing it myself.
When it came time for me to apply to college, I sat down to fill out that heinously long and complicated application for each school I was interested in. I completed most of it with relative ease; those who know me will be plenty aware that I rarely have an issue with finding the words. But then I arrived at the part that required me to select what major I was applying with the intent of pursuing.
And I paused. Though I knew that I could always change it or modify it, or declare a double major or an additional minor, I wanted to pick the path that I would follow for the rest of my life.
Eventually, I clicked on “English”. And then I submitted the application with this weird sense of relief, fear, and pride suddenly suffusing me.
Society today inherently pressures young people to choose a direction that will enable them to be successful. Success generally equates to financial prosperity.
I didn’t choose to be an English major because I knew that it would lead to an abundance of cash that I could practically live in. I didn’t decide to pursue my love of writing because I wanted to be ludicrously rich and famous.
I did it because of a word I just used.
Don’t get me wrong, I have met plenty of people who love and are truly passionate about their majors in the more economically and financially stable fields of math and science, for example. They truly enjoy their work and their education and are more than happy when they envision their future.
But I believe you should do whatever makes you the happiest in the end. So if that’s being a doctor or a scientist or a lawyer, good for you! I mean that with the most genuine sincerity possible. That’s wonderful. It’s great that you’ve found such a calling in your life.
I could have decided to follow such a path. I was never much for math in school and a lot of science courses escaped me. Try as I might, I just never really grasped these concepts. Where I did excel was in classes that involved language, especially English. I took creative writing multiple years and was greatly enthused about taking honors level English.
But I’m sure if I really applied myself and worked hard, I could have selected something different when I filled out that college application and maybe felt confident in doing so.
Would I have been happy, though?
I tend to think not, though.
Words, to me, are the greatest power we possess. They can be used to build people up and tear them down. They can make us cry and make us laugh. They can inspire us and open our eyes to things we never considered before. They can make us angry and they can calm and reassure us. They can be used to build bridges of peace and destroy bonds like weapons. They can breed hatred, but they can also create love.
There’s that “love” word again.
Do I love writing? Yes, I absolutely do. There is no doubt in my mind that this is what I want to do with the rest of my life. Maybe I won’t be wildly successful. Maybe it’ll be hard to pay my bills. Maybe I won’t get to live in a fancy house or be featured on a talk show or something.
Maybe I will.
However, I’ve often come across the honestly incredibly demeaning viewpoint that my career aspirations are somehow lesser because I want to be a writer. I’ve been belittled and made fun of due to the fact that I plan on inventing stories and bringing characters to life rather than discovering new formulas or making a huge medical advancement.
Does this mean that I think poorly of those who choose other, more socially accepted and admired, professions and life paths? No, absolutely not. I think they’re incredible. These are some of the kindest, most intelligent, wisest people I’ve ever known.
I do think poorly of those who look down on others because of their choices. Because of their passions. Because of their love.
When I write, I am truly happy. That’s part of why I started this blog. It began back in a very dark time in my life. Through writing on here, whether it be crafting a poem or just pouring out my emotions and thoughts, I have always felt a sense of relief, and yes, pride, in so doing. I feel at peace with myself, and again, proud, that I am.
Writing is honestly magical to me. And though I love Harry Potter (those books were one of the cruxes of my childhood, honestly), I’m talking a more realistic kind of magic that is nonetheless still incredibly awe-inspiring.
Warning: my inner English major demands that I warn you of several run-on sentences ahead. But they’re the best thing for conveying what I want to say.
I can create people out of thin air. I can bring them to life with adjectives and descriptions and choices and personalities and passions and dislikes and secrets. I can invent worlds full of beauty and splendor and wonder and violence and danger and turmoil and romance and amazement. I can take my feelings and turn them into a fabric woven of thousands of threads of different colors and textures. I can make someone so angry that they throw the book at the wall and declare their hatred for what I have decided will happen. I can make someone cry until they taste the salt of their tears on their lips and the pages are warped from drops landing on them. I can make someone laugh until no more sound escapes them and their sides begin to hurt. I can make someone smile so wide that it practically splits their face in two, though admittedly in a hopefully less macabre way. I can make someone fall in love solely with the power of ink on paper. I can inspire people to try new things and believe in themselves. I can keep people awake for hours, totally engrossed in the world I have spun around them. I can make people excited about writing their own stories.
And perhaps most importantly, I can make someone feel love.
Love for what I have created. Love for the characters I have invented. Love for the environments and societies they live in. Love for the elation that comes from opening a book for the first time, and the sense of closure that comes with finishing it. Love for the range and capacity of the emotions that they feel. Love for their desires and dreams and goals, whether big or small. Love for their bodies and their identities; the core of who they truly are. Love for their families and their friends, whether current or former. Love for their fellow human beings, no matter how near or far. Love for the fact that something as beautiful, precious, and amazing as love exists in this world.
I can’t count the number of times someone has looked at me confusedly when I said I was an English major. Looked at me with irrefutable incredulity when I mentioned that I want to be an author. Pretended to be impressed when I told them that my dream is to write for the rest of my life.
And that’s the polite ones. I’ve heard far ruder and crueler things. This isn’t to say that I’ve been made to suffer. Not at all. But my confidence has sure taken some pretty heavy shots. So has my happiness. And my courage. And my conviction. I’ve been laughed at and teased and belittled. And sometimes I’ve begun to think that maybe, I made the wrong choice.
I know better now. This is absolutely the right choice. Even if I end up relatively poor, I will still have my passion and my happiness. Even if I only have an impact on a few people, I will still have made an impression. Even if I encounter even more of the ridicule that I mentioned, I will still hold my head high (or perhaps shove my nose into yet another book).
There is an undeniable tendency to look down on those who decide to follow the path of a writer. It really bothers me. What matters the most is that you do what you love. Look, I said it yet again.
Happiness is something that is in pretty unfortunate short supply. So many people are simply miserable for innumerable reasons. There are mornings where I wake up and wish I could just fall asleep forever. There are times where I avoid doing things or spending time with others because I’m too mentally and physically exhausted to so do. But no matter what, writing always brings a little spark back into my life. I never fail to feel better from it, even if it’s just the tiniest, most infinitesimal bit.
We need more happiness in this world. And if writing makes you happy, then fuck what everyone else has to say. Do it.
If you think you’re not that talented. If you spend more time lamenting your seemingly permanent writer’s block than actually storytelling. If you get made fun of or hear the all too familiar “Oh, that’s nice.” If you walk around with a book in front of your face. If you have thoughts and ideas and things to say. If you want to convey a message. If you don’t believe in yourself. If it makes you even the smallest bit happy.
Happy, happy, happy.
Writing makes me happy. It makes me feel fulfilled and proud and serene. It has been there for me in some of the best times and some of the worst. It has seen me through some of the darkest moments I’ve suffered through. It has allowed me to express the most closely kept parts of my being. It has brought me closer to others.
And what I am most proud of is the fact that my writing has had an impact on others. I never dreamed that it would, but I know that it has. I’ve received beautiful compliments and wonderful commendations. I’ve received countless messages that have made me cry because they contain such gratefulness and appreciation. I’ve given people hope and reminded them that things do get better.
This is what I want to do with the rest of my life. It is truly what I am meant to do.
So if you know someone who wants to be a writer, encourage them. Reassure them that they are doing the right thing. Or if you want to be a writer, remind yourself how much it makes you thrive. Never doubt your decision. Take the creative writing class or buy yet another book. Spend your time reading and creating. Look to established authors for inspiration and validation. Believe in yourself.
And, most importantly of all, write. Never stop writing.