When I Questioned My Abilities As A Writer

When I Questioned My Abilities As A Writer

I could not find the words, but then the words found me.
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When people used to ask me about my favorite subject in school, english was always at the top of my list. I sat through years and years of english classes, listening attentively to my teachers and classmates, reading endless stacks of books, and then taking everything that I heard, saw, and learned, and pouring it into my writing. My writing. It was how I expressed myself. It was how I showed my teachers that I listened, even when I sat there and refused to speak. And ultimately, they heard me loud and clear.

Although my writing matured as I attempted to analyze and question some of the greatest works of literature, such as Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice" or F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby," where I found the most joy was in creative writing. I loved to tell stories and write poetry. I loved possessing the freedom to choose whether my work would be true or imaginary, whether or not I based the story on real feelings and circumstances or something completely made up.

My passion continued throughout high school, but when I went off to college, I yearned to express myself through creative writing like I once did in english class. Then I found out that my school had an Odyssey community for which I could write, so I decided to apply. I soon realized, however, that while obtaining the position of 'Content Creator' was easy, actually creating the content proved much more difficult than I had originally expected.

I started out writing about all sorts of general things: my hometown, my high school, my college experience. Topics that I thought would be relatable to people, that I thought were interesting and captivating. But as time went on, I began stumbling upon some other extremely well-written, engrossing, and interesting Odyssey articles. From sharing personal stories about losing yourself in college to articulating why the younger generation needs to start dating again, just to name a few, these other content creators wrote articles far more interesting and captivating than anything I could ever dream of writing. And while I wished so desperately for them to spark my own creative thinking, instead, it completely derailed.

I racked my brain searching for something, anything to write about. But the pressure to live up to the standards of these other articles, of these other people, was too great. My mind went numb. I stared at the blank white screen with it's blinking cursor, feeling hopeless. I did not possess any strong passion for a specific cause and I did not experience anything in life that seemed worth writing about.

I simply could not find the words. So I just stopped writing.

I gave up on ideas before I even got past the first few lines. I created and deleted numerous drafts of articles. I didn't even try to make my deadlines because I knew that they would inevitably be missed. The only semi-productive thing I could come up with to do was to go back through my old high school assignments and see if anything was worth publishing. So I dug out my old Macbook Pro and began to sift through various documents until I found the folder labeled 'English'. And as I read the words of those seemingly ancient stories and poems, I remembered why I fell in love with writing in the first place.

It wasn't to compare my work to others, and it wasn't to fit a certain mold. I fell in love with writing because through writing, I can create anything that I want to create. I can express myself in more ways than my spoken word knows how, and I can find the courage to articulate my innermost thoughts and beliefs in such ways that they can be understood. I can portray parts of my life that relate to other people to remind them that they're not alone, and in doing so, I hope that I am making even the smallest of differences.



Cover Image Credit: Tumblr

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A Senior's Last Week Of High School

The bittersweet end.
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Well, this is it. This is what we've worked so hard the last four years - who am I kidding - basically what seems like our whole lives for. This is the very last week we will set foot as a student in our high school's hallways. As most schools are getting ready to set their seniors free at last, it all begins to set in - the excitement, the anxiousness, and also the sentiment and nostalgia.

For seniors, the years since our first day as a freshman at the bottom of the high school totem pole have seemed endless, but as we look back on these last few weeks, we realize that this year in particular has gone by extraordinarily fast. It was just yesterday that we were sitting in our classrooms for the very first time, going to our 'last first' practice, and getting our first taste of the (very real) "senioritis". With all that's going on in our lives right now, from sports and clubs, finals, and the sought after graduation ceremony, it's hard to really sit down and think about how our lives are all about to become drastically different. For some it's moving out, and for some it's just the thought of not seeing your best friend on the way to fourth period English; either way, the feels are real. We are all in a tug of war with the emotions going on inside of us; everything is changing - we're ready, but we're not.

THE GOOD. Our lives are about to begin! There is a constant whirlwind of excitement. Senior awards, getting out of school early, parties, and of course Graduation. We are about to be thrust into a world of all new things and new people. Calling our own shots and having the freedom we have so desperately desired since the teenage years began is right around the corner. Maybe the best part is being able to use these new things surrounding you to grow and open your mind and even your heart to ideas you never could before. We get the chance to sink or swim, become our own person, and really begin to find ourselves.

Things we don't even know yet are in the works with new people we haven't even met yet. These friendships we find will be the ones to last us a lifetime. The adventures we experience will transform into the advice we tell our own children and will become the old tales we pass down to our grandkids when they come to visit on the weekends. We will probably hate the all night study sessions, the intensity of finals week, and the overpowering stress and panic of school in general, just like we did in high school... But it will all be worth it for the memories we make that will outlive the stress of that paper due in that class you absolutely hate. As we leave high school, remember what all the parents, teachers, coaches, and mentors are telling you - this are the best times of our lives!

THE BAD. The sentimental emotions are setting in. We're crying, siblings are tearing up, and parents are full-out bawling. On that first day, we never expected the school year to speed by the way it did. Suddenly everything is coming to an end. Our favorite teachers aren't going to be down the hall anymore, our best friends probably won't share a class with us, we won't be coming home to eat dinner with our families...

We all said we wanted to get out of this place, we couldn't wait, we were ready to be on our own; we all said we wouldn't be "so emotional" when the time came, but yet here we are, wishing we could play one more football game with our team or taking the time to make sure we remember the class we liked the most or the person that has made us laugh even when we were so stressed we could cry these past few years. Take the time to hug your parents these last few months. Memorize the facial expressions of your little sister or brother. Remember the sound of your dad coming home from work. These little things we take for granted every day will soon just be the things we tell our college roommate when they ask about where we're from. As much as we've wanted to get out of our house and our school, we never thought it would break our heart as much as it did. We are all beginning to realize that everything we have is about to be gone.

Growing up is scary, but it can also be fun. As we take the last few steps in the hallways of our school, take it all in. Remember, it's okay to be happy; it's okay to be totally excited. But also remember it's okay to be sad. It's okay to be sentimental. It's okay to be scared, too. It's okay to feel all these confusing emotions that we are feeling. The best thing about the bittersweet end to our high school years is that we are finally slowing down our busy lives enough to remember the happy memories.

Try not to get annoyed when your mom starts showing your baby pictures to everyone she sees, or when your dad starts getting aggravated when you talk about moving out and into your new dorm. They're coping with the same emotions we are. Walk through the halls remembering the classes you loved and the classes you hated. Think of the all great times that have happened in our high school years and the friends that have been made that will never be forgotten. We all say we hated school, but we really didn't. Everything is about to change; that's a happy thing, and a sad thing. We all just have to embrace it! We're ready, but we're not...

Cover Image Credit: Facebook

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Lessons I Learned From Studying Abroad

Studying abroad is an amazing experience.

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This past semester I studied abroad in London, England. I had so many wonderful experiences and met some lovely people. This opportunity led to the realization of many life lessons and I could never take this experience for granted. Here are a few of the most significant findings from my journey.

1. Life is so much more fun when you don't care what people think

Everyone realizes this in their own way but honestly this is one of ultimate keys of happiness.

2. Not everyone is going to like you and that's okay

You're better off without them.

3. Take risks; Some opportunities may not reoccur

Breaking the rules once in a while can pay off. Trust me.

4. Don't be naive--not everything is as it seems

You're not the only one going through ups and downs. Life happens for everyone.

5. Sometimes you just need to let things be--trying too hard to fix some things will only make them worse

Some things will fix themselves better than you're capable of doing.

6. Kindness is the most important quality in a person

The only thing someone should be judged on is the size of their heart.

7. Dreams don't work unless you do 

You've got to work the hardest for the things you want the most.

8. You must truly love yourself before you can love anyone else

This is one of those things that no one wants to admit but it couldn't be any truer.

9. Stop and take a moment to realize how far you've come 

You'll appreciate it all much more in the end.

10. Hold your head high and don't stress over every mistake 

Everyone is human and no human is perfect.

11. Live your life for YOU, not anyone else

It's your life after all.

12. In threatening situations, try your hardest not to panic

Remain as calm as you can and try to keep your head clear.

13. So much of what you think is overthought

You're the only one beating yourself up for that minor incident.

14. There will be many things in life that you'll desperately want but can't have

And something there's just nothing you can do about it.

15. The sooner you learn to laugh off your mistakes and learn from them, the better

Some funny mistakes make for interesting stories!

16. Everything does actually happen for a reason

Probably one of the hardest lessons to learn, but also probably one of the truest.

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