Academic vs. Personal

Writing because I want to is new to me.  Aside from some rather angsty poetry from junior high, any writing I’ve done has normally been required.  I loved literature in high school, at least I thought I did.  When I got to college, I realized I didn’t love it enough to write papers all semester long.  I wrote a lot of papers in graduate school.  Those notes from professors with feedback, both positive and negative, were like a power source for me.  What I didn’t realize then that I’m learning now is that I survive by pleasing people near me, so much so that I don’t always understand the difference between what I want and what they want.  Earlier this spring, I was asked where I go to relax.  Was there a favorite vacation spot?  A place I could go and know I’d be refreshed?  I couldn’t give an answer, because I didn’t know.  I started counseling sessions again just a couple of months ago, and it has become painfully obvious just how quickly I can answer about how everyone else around me is doing, but not myself.  For years, I’ve kept those old poems merely because I struggle to throw things away.  At least, that’s what I told myself.  I suspect I really kept them because it was me.  There was no one to please but myself.  There was no school assignment, nor a teacher to build me up or cut me down.  It’s a notebook filled with pages of my life, my thoughts, my fears, my anger-me, for no reason other than me believing I had something to say.  There is a vulnerability to personal writing, and there was clearly a point when it became larger than my belief in my own words.  Any number of things could have contributed to this.  I didn’t stop writing, but I instead wrote what people expected me to write.  I kept my ideas confined to the box they were supposed to be in, the box where people could analyze my grammar, my research, my execution, but not me.  Maybe that’s why I didn’t become a literature major.  The characters I loved felt like me and writing about them was like writing about myself.  Critiquing my writing on literature was dissecting me.  Whether I realized it or not, this change from writing for myself to writing for others prevented me from analyzing myself, knowing how I really felt, what I really wanted, and where my heart really lived.  While my thirteen year-old self may have been grandiose, melodramatic, and shamelessly bold, I was also charismatic, sincere, and compassionate.  I think who I once was would have known where she wanted to rest and relax, where her next adventure might be.  Maybe writing like this will help me find her again, because we have a vacation to take.


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