I usually won’t get personal and talk mushy stuff on here, but I thought I’d share a piece I recently wrote.
I was asked to submit a writing sample and respond to the prompt “Why do you write?” I’m sure you haven’t any lost sleep over the question, but just in case anyone is curious as to what got me into the field, here’s the response I gave:
There is something you should know about me. I am eternally fascinated by people. All kinds of people. What motivates them to do what they do, say what they say, even wear what they wear? What keeps them up at night? What compels them to be better versions of themselves?
During my young idealistic season of growth that most refer to as their undergraduate studies, I humbly declared that my life goal was to change the world. Whether that desire to change the world came from my belief in the intrinsic value of human life, the inspiration of highly educated parents who devoted their lives to restoring hope to those around the globe who have none, or a cute boy, I do not know.
What I do know is that I was addicted to adventures like they were heroine. The more adventures I had, the more I craved them. Honestly, this addiction was rooted in the fact that my adventures always accompanied people. Or people accompanied my adventures. I’m still not quite sure how that worked. Either way, adventures typically meant meeting fascinating people in fascinating places who led fascinating lives–and that was a means by which to escape my own.
Eugene Cho once stated, “Let’s be real. We can’t change the whole world. But we can change the world of some, and in the process, be changed ourselves.” I had no idea the change that would have to happen in me before I was able to make a change in the world.
(Fast forward to 2010.)
In 2010, a new adventure began that would forever change my view on adventures. On people. On God. On life. The extent of my adventures in the summer of 2010 included laying on my bed staring at the ceiling fan, and trying to ignore the smolderingly hot world outside my window–the world I affectionately referred to as hell. The summer I spent in bed (in hell) was perhaps the single most significant season of my life, because I was forced to face myself. Until I was able to face myself, I would not be ready to face the rest of the world again.
Throughout the next year I spent countless hours on the my therapist’s couch. While I was comfortably cuddled up on that soft couch, my therapist began the most uncomfortable procedure of probing as deeply as she needed, in order to reach the dark painful parts of my heart that I had tried for most of my life to keep clothed with silly costumes. I allowed myself to be stripped of the costumes until all that was left was a raw naked version of myself.
Being in this very vulnerable state gave me freedom like I had never experienced. I realized for the first time that I did not have to be defined by others. I could choose for myself what motivates me, what makes me choose what I do, or say or even wear. I could choose to be a better version of myself.
Discovering myself was the beginning of a new adventure. Realizing I had a voice (and that it mattered) helped me find my niche–writing. My innate desire to change the world has not changed, but the means by which I do that, the motivation behind doing that, and the rubric that determines my level of success is now more defined.
I want to dignify someone who is stifled by the definitions others have given them. I want to renew the strength of someone who is being weighed down by silly costumes. I want to help someone find their voice.
Eugene Cho was right. It may be silly to think that I could change the whole world. But if I have the opportunity to change someone’s world, my world will be changed.