To The Person Who Told Me I Couldn't Write
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To The Person Who Told Me I Couldn't Write

Confidence is key.

To The Person Who Told Me I Couldn't Write
Ignitum Today

Writing is not easy. It’s a process. Ideas need to be edited and re-edited until they are considered presentable or readable, and even then there will always be something off or incomplete about a piece. William Shakespeare did not write "Hamlet" in a day. F. Scott Fitzgerald did not send his first draft of The Great Gatsby to his publisher and expect it to be printed as it was. Even the greats needed help getting their masterpieces ready for the world to see.

I like writing. It’s absolutely not easy, but I like describing a scene, creating a character or making a reader feel something and I am willing to work to do that. When I got to college, I was undecided, but declared English as my major at the end of freshman year. It is a decision that took quite a bit of deliberation and flip-flopping, but I have not regretted it. An English major is extremely versatile and obviously it involves writing, so it is a good fit so far. Over the past three years, I have sometimes had my doubts about my major. Am I doing the right thing? Will this lead to a job down the road? Should I switch my major before it’s too late? Whenever these thoughts enter my head, I always go back to what made me choose my major in the first place: the writing. I have faith in my ability and everything that I have learned since middle school about how to write. My confidence in myself and my love for the work keep me going.

An internship is required as part of my school’s English curriculum. Seeing as it’s my junior year, I figured that now would be as good a time as any to get an internship for credit. I applied to a bunch and got accepted to a small start-up that was essentially a women’s empowerment campaign, as well as a pet lifestyle online magazine. I hoped to work more on women’s empowerment since that is an important value of mine and I was also excited to work in New York twice a week. My first few days on the job were a whirlwind. I learned quickly that my boss wanted things done a specific way and every task needed to be completed as quickly as possible. I wasn’t sure if I was working slowly or if my supervisor had a ridiculously high standard for her interns, but one thing was for certain: she did not get to where she is today by taking “no” for an answer and waiting around for people to do things for her. Also, as an unpaid intern, I didn’t have much of a choice to say “no” to anything, so I just kept my head down and got my work done. Editing, copying, formatting, research: I did it all.

Finally, the day came when I was told to write something. “It’s simple,” she said. “Have fun with it.” My assignment was to write an “Adopt Me” article showcasing a dog from a local shelter that was up for adoption. All I had to do was write two or three sentences about the dog and add a link to the shelter website. I found a dog, wrote a quick bio, encouraged the reader to adopt and gave my computer to my boss to give the article a final approval before I published it. She read it over quickly and pointed out the sentence, “This is a very special dog for a very special person.”

“That’s wrong. You can’t repeat words like that. You need to learn how to write,” she told me. She handed me back my computer and said, “I want you to be learning a new word every day. Fix it.” I wish I was editorializing, but that’s a direct quote. I was devastated. I went back to my desk legitimately fighting back tears. I am open to constructive criticism and I welcome new ideas and perspectives when it comes to my writing. I know that my work is nowhere near perfect. However, to be told that I don’t know how to write and that I needed to learn shook me to my core. That one statement basically discredited everything that I had been working toward since junior school. I immediately started doubting myself. Do I even know how to write?

After careful consideration, I came to the conclusion that of course I know how to write. Why did I let her get to me like that? Maybe because she’s an authority figure over me. Maybe because it was such a simple assignment and apparently I couldn’t write three sentences without royally messing it up. I lost my confidence for a second and it almost destroyed me. All of the praise and helpful thoughts and criticisms that I have gotten on my writing up to that point went straight out the window because all I could hear was “you don’t know how to write.”

You will always have negative critics who have nothing nice to say. They may be fewer than the people who want to love, support and help you, but they are louder and they will demand to be heard. They will scream until they get their point across. They will make you feel less than you are. They will even make you lose faith in yourself. When that happens, remind yourself that you are enough. You’ve gotten as far as you have and one setback will not be the end of you. Just because one person doesn’t like the way that you do something doesn’t mean that you’re bad at it. Have confidence in yourself, follow your passion and encourage others to do the same.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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