I've never been great when it comes to speaking. Finding the right words, saying things the right way...things that come so naturally to others, never came easily to me.
Even as a kid, I had a hard time expressing myself vocally. I hated speaking in class. I would shut down in school when I got overwhelmed, rather than say I needed help. I went to therapy for a good while as a kid and barely spoke a word, shutting down rather than responding to the psychologist's questions. And it probably didn't help that I rarely had friends to talk to and practice that basic social skill.
Writing, however, has always been easy for me.
Writing comes naturally to me. It has just always felt more "right" when it comes to expressing myself. Finding the right words to get my points across in the way I want them to is much easier to do when I'm writing them out. The words just flow out and work much more easily than speaking.
With writing, you get the chance to pick the best words to explain just how you feel. You have more time to think about what to say. Take that time when speaking and you tend to have a lot of awkward pauses.
Writing gives me a way and place to say things I otherwise might not get to say.
For example - one year ago, I got up the courage to finally write about my experiences with suicidal thoughts. That was one of the hardest things I've ever done, and before that moment, the only person who truly knew what I had been going through was my boyfriend. Not even my parents had known, because I simply could not find the words to tell them. There didn't feel like any good way to say to their faces what I was going through, even when I knew my parents deserved to know and could probably help.
But writing it all down, pouring those words out into an article - it was different. The words to explain how I felt, the place I had been in, what I had gone through, just flowed out of me onto my screen. I knew what I wanted to say, what I had to say. I knew exactly what to say for others who read my article and related, to remind them we are not alone.
If I had to verbalize all that aloud, there is no way it would have been the same.
Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy talking with people. I love having a good conversation with friends or chatting with coworkers. In the right scenarios, talking gives me energy, makes me feel connected to those around me. I could talk for hours with my theater friends about numerous topics and feel the happiest I ever feel.
But speaking just doesn't give me the same satisfaction I get from writing.
There is something gratifying about jotting down a simple thought one day and coming back at a later time to flesh out that thought into something bigger. There is this sense of relief when you take the thoughts swirling in your head around something and turn it into something cohesive.
I can't count how many times I've had a passing thought for an article idea, typed it in my Notes app, and came back later to turn it into a strong article. Or the number of times I've rolled over in the middle of the night, picked up my phone, and found myself writing out an almost complete article that spurred from a random thought - and was actually understandable come light of day.
Mainly, I write to release.
Writing has become my best release for when I'm experiencing too much at once - emotions, life, stressful scenarios, all of it. It often helps me work through what I'm going through, and if it doesn't, writing everything out at least helps to get it off my chest a bit.
If I'm experiencing a lot of anxiety and/or depression, pouring out how I feel onto a page takes several pounds off my shoulders. While writing it all out certainly doesn't fix anything or make the situation disappear, it does clear my mind a bit. Dumping out everything in my mind with pen and paper lessens the ongoing whirl of repetitive thoughts (thank you, anxiety).
I even started keeping a notebook on me at all times so I can jot things down. Whether it's a to-do list, homework details, feelings, or just random quotes (I have a great one in there from my psych professor), this notebook has become my own version of a bullet journal (it's not legitimately one because I'm not quite artistic enough). I prefer to write things down over put them in my phone, and this notebook means I can always have a place to write.
I only started defining myself as a writer within the last couple of years, surprisingly. It took starting a blog, switching majors, and starting to write for Odyssey to truly accept that it's who I am and what I'm strong at. I definitely still experience writer's block (even with a long list of ideas), but once the words start going, I'm good to go.
Becoming a stronger writer actually helped me become better at speaking.
Writing more helped me develop not just my writing voice, but how I speak. I've grown better at vocalizing how I feel and become more comfortable talking with others as my words got stronger.