pen to paper: part 1

Writing is like taking a deep breathe. I go through life and automatically breathe in all of the stress and worry. I overthink all of my insecurities, doubts and endless amounts of what-if situations. My mind starts spinning out of control. In that second between taking in all of those self-destructive thoughts and deciding to let go, I write. It allows me to release and work through my problems. It neutralizes me before I have to breathe in that next hurdle of life again. Journalling, and writing in general, is important to me. Journaling will always be a constant passion in my life.

I was taught how to journal in the 1st grade by Mrs. Lemming. I was just learning how to read and write. Mrs. Lemming required each student to have a 90 sheet wide-ruled spiral notebook. I wish I could remember the specific color of mine. Once a day she would give us a ‘writing prompt’, a phrase that makes everyone moan at the sheer thought, but it was my absolute favorite time of day. At the time I was struggling to read. I sounded out one word at a time and couldn’t read full sentences without stumbling. I was incredibly shy to read out loud, but I knew I loved to write. I was confident in the voice I had. This spiral notebook was my first journal; a place where I could log my thoughts and feel confident in what I had to say and more inportantly who I was.

After learning to write, I was unstoppable. I had many secret diaries (the kind that come with tiny locks and keys). After school I would go to my mom’s office and form little short stories with copy paper. First, I would fold the papers in half and Mom would help me staple the middle. Then, in pencil, I would write and illustrate the story. (They were always office best-sellers.) While I was in the office, I learned how to type on a typewriter. I loved the sound of each serif letter forming the powerful words my 7-year-old mind was coming up with.

In 4th grade, I got an old computer set up in my room. I would sit at my desk with a single purple floppy disk I thought held the key to my fame as a writer. I remember sitting and writing short stories for hours. I was beginning to be obsess over the book and movie, Harriet the Spy. I felt connected to her being weird and obsessively carrying her notebook every where she went to catalogue her surroundings. I understood how she felt having a few close friends, and being an outsider to the rest of the kids in class. I wanted to be just like her, except for her lunch of tomato and mayo sandwiches. I couldn’t do the tomatoes.

At the beginning of 5th grade, my family moved from Poteau, OK to Oklahoma City. I was devastated about such a drastic move at the time, but I grew to realize it is one of the best things that has ever happened in my life. I wasn’t excited about making new friends in a new school in a huge new city. So I wrote about anything I could. I don’t remember specific topics but I’m sure it all revolved around dance, or being incredibly angsty. (For some reason, I was a really angsty 5th grader.)

February of 2003, 6th grade year, I started writing and collecting in an ugly Composition notebook which I then carried by my side throughout middle school. This orange and overly sticker-ed notebook I held dear contained my thoughts on life, dance, my crushes, my friends, short stories, postcards I would pick out and tape in, little photos, goals. Everything.

Throughout high school I kept a few other journals, but my schedule was incredibly busy with dance. If I wasn’t busy during school, I would journal then. This was also the time of Xanga, which I wrote on everyday, and MySpace. Social media allowed me to not only write down my thoughts, but to share them with others.

The first couple weeks of college were tough because I didn’t know many people. I felt as alone as I did in 5th grade. Once I started meeting people and having fun, I started writing in little red Moleskine. I wrote about friendships new and old. I wrote about boys I liked because I was starting to date. Freshman and Sophmore year I cataloged my words and inspiration on Tumblr, too.

At the beginning of my sophmore year, I was reflecting a lot on where I was going with life. I had a rough freshman year so I had moved back home. I wasn’t sure I wanted to pursue my education major any more. I knew I was supposed to be doing something more expressive that meant more to me. This is when I realized how important writing was to me. It would always be my passion.

Through out college I’ve gone through many blog names and journals. I’ve written about good times and bad. Break throughs, break-downs, and break-ups. Trends of who I thought I was suppose to be, and who I really am. I’ve gone through jobs. I’ve written through friendships and a relationship.

Writing is not only about releasing all of my emotions, thoughts, and insecurities, but being able to look back on where I was years later and understand how my life has shaped who I am. When I reflect, I gain a deeper understanding of myself. When I understand myself, I can love myself with confidence. Loving myself is something I’ve always struggled with, and I think many other people do too. We are all called to love ourselves.

“Write hard and clear about what hurts.” - Hemingway

Journaling is one of the best ways to reflect on the struggles in your life and how you overcome them. Writing about your life allows you to be honest with yourself, and it puts you on a path to loving yourself.