It's hard to think it's been a full nine months since I last wrote and published. It feels like I've been off the grid. For all you know, I could have had a whole ass kid in these nine months (don't worry I'm only kidding, I definitely did not have one of those nor am anywhere close for the matter). I could have even moved across the world, or gone down with the virus…and well, you get the point. I could have been anywhere doing anything. But no, I'm still here where you left me.
The truth is, I've spent a lot of time thinking, and maybe I've done too much thinking for my own good. It's had its ups and downs and spin arounds. I've spent my time thinking a lot about the ways I use my voice and how to listen in return. Am I using my voice in a way that benefits others? Am I using my voice to say new and meaningful things? I've listened to a lot of what people want to hear and learned about what people want to read. Quite literally in fact, as I am now in that stage of my education major where I learn about how to help my students fall in love with reading. How to help them engage with the literature, how to develop strong readers and progress the weaker ones.
One of the first things we learn in these classes, however, is that in order to engage others in what you are teaching, you yourself must also be engaged. You must love what you teach in order to teach it. Your passion and excitement is what makes it contagious, and your students will pick up on that. I guess the same goes for me with writing, and even further, for life. If you want people to hear what you have to say, make it meaningful. If you want people to care about what you have to say, show them how much you care.
That was a lesson that, somewhat embarrassingly, took me a long time to learn. I've struggled with feeling like my voice wasn't impactful or that what I have to say and give could make a difference to someone else. What if people didn't want to read what I was writing? I'm a twenty-year-old college student, and to be honest, sometimes I'm lazy. I'm far from being some famous author, even further from being some Mark Zuckerberg, who was 19 years old when he changed the world.
It was this idea combined with the fact that I didn't like what I was actually writing that ultimately caused me to falter. I was letting the idea of disappointing others let me start disappointing myself. It's not necessarily that I completely stopped writing. I would start writing but not feel like my words had a purpose nor that I knew where they were going. I was writing for others, rather than for myself. I've always enjoyed writing. But then, suddenly, it started to feel of more a hassle. How are others supposed to want to read it if I barely want to write it? I must find meaning within myself first, before I try to find that meaning from others. I must love what I'm writing, otherwise there's no point in writing it.
Now you must be sitting here reading this, saying: "That's great for you I guess, look at you! You're writing now! But I personally can't relate to this, I mean, I don't write." But the thing is, you can. There's a lot of things in our life that we ask others to assign meaning to. We look for approval from others or we look for that clap on the back. We love it because others love it too, and they praise us for it. But what if they stop praising you for it? Will you still love it just as much? Does the meaning come from within you, or from the eyes of others? You aren't any less important, your voice isn't any less important, or that thing isn't any less important to you even if others don't approve. And I can promise if you, if you love it, others will too.
To me writing is a bit like a love song. If you've read The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T.S. Eliot, it's a bit like that. It's indecisive. Doing it feels like disturbing the universe. You love it, but sometimes you fall out of love, and then you have to learn how to fall right back in. You know you should, but you just can't bring yourself to take action on it, and instead you fall into this worry. That's something I'm learning how to do, to fall back into love, to take action instead of sit and worry. It's hard. And sometimes to do that you also have to learn how to love yourself, how to not be so hard on yourself. Love what you teach in order to teach it, love what you write in order to write, and dare to love yourself a little bit in process too.