I’ve had a nasty case of writer’s block lately. I was cruising Pinterest today to see if I could find any creative prompts that might help get things going. I found a still image from an old favorite TV show and earlier today I learned it would have been Kurt Cobain’s 50th birthday (Cobain was a major source of inspiration for me as a teen.) Lastly, I was digging through an old box of photographs and started feeling a little nostalgic when I came across a high school photo or two. So here’s a creative post for you, fresh of the grill. There’s no point or moral, it’s just some thoughts on electronic paper.
As a teenager I was really embarrassed, like, all of the time. My lack of self-confidence was painfully obvious and I don’t think I could nearly list all of the things about myself that I had wished were different.
This became a big problem when I was asked: What do you want to be when you grow up? Or later, what do you want to major in? And even later, what do you want to use your degree for?
In high school, I had absolutely no clue. I didn’t feel like I was good at anything. I joined the drama club midway through and I felt like I fit in enough but I wasn’t especially talented at acting or technicals or anything like that. Sure, I was put to work and successful in some ways and I tried to follow that but it wasn’t perfect.
Long before that though I had no guidance what so ever. I was just an angry teenager with a smart mouth and a journal. I never, ever, let anyone crack open my composition book and read my inner thoughts or poems or see my dumb cartoon drawings. Occasionally I would let people read the song lyrics I had written but that was rare and the reader had to be a stranger – someone I could brush off and avoid if I didn’t like their reaction.
I felt very lost, most of the time. In class, I barely tried. My writing was all over the place and I took peer-editing personally, eventually refusing to edit ever. Now I think that’s crazy talk, but again, I felt like a misfit. It was me against the world.
All I knew was that I wanted to enjoy my life. I researched common jobs that seemed interesting – nursing, flight attending, cosmetology, teaching – but I found faults with every single one, shortcomings in myself that I could not fix.
The question of what I wanted to do embarrassed me to the core. Despite what my relatives said I knew I wasn’t pretty enough – or at least had the right specs – to be a model, and my voice wasn’t good enough to make a hit pop record (though I still cling to that dream a tiny bit, even now.) I couldn’t science or math very well, my writing was jumbled and my reading was just average.I was rejected for the one sports team I tried out for. My grades were average or below and even my electives I almost managed to fail because I just wouldn’t turn anything in.
My self-esteem was so bad I just didn’t care. I’d rather fail and fade away then try to find something new to try another hand at.
That all changed in college, when I very quickly learned that a positive attitude and a little elbow grease will get you much farther than you’d initially expect, and sometimes you learn right away that you are not meant to be in the fashion or the theatre world.
Opportunity fell in my lap in college so I took advantage of it. I sucked it up and let peer editing happen and guess what? Not a single joke cracked at my expense. Suddenly I realized how great it could be – editing gives you second chances!
Since deciding that communications was where I belonged, I started getting a different question: “When are we going to see you on TV?” I don’t think people realize just how much work and pressure goes into television and the people who make it happen. I do, and I don’t think it’s for me.
Looking back it’s easy to see that writing was what I was meant to do. I felt guarded and defensive over my work, journals and poetry because they were extensions of me and if you hurt them, you hurt me.
It takes a lot of time to move past that, and I am still working on it. While I used to feel very comfortable about sharing my poetry as a teen, now I guard it more so than my heart, hiding it from even my closest friends and family.
My essays and long-form works flow like rivers, splashing over rocks and algae. They are unstoppable. They must come out, somehow, and now! But poetry is like a little grotto, peaceful and filled with lazy waters that gently spill into crevices and over little urchins and barnacles and into the deep green with just a simple smattering of bubbles.
It makes me wonder… what would teenage me think if she could see my writing now?