Growing up, I never wrote. It was the days before blogging, so my only option would have been a journal. I had confidence issues (or was it ego issues?…) as a kid, so I’m sure the thought of having my journal discovered made the act of keeping one completely out of the question. The first time I wrote anything of substance wasn’t until I was 22 years old. I was at a hotel in La Fortuna, Costa Rica. My best friend in the world had passed away just a few months prior, and I took off on a backpacking trip trying to find something. What it was, I didn’t know, but I knew I had to go searching for it. So as I sat there in a small Costa Rican mountain town with the Arenal volcano in the distance, I put pen to paper and wrote a poem.
“Sitting on this bench,
I know not what to do.
My world has come undone.
It seems everything’s unglued.
I’ve lost my closest friend,
One who knew me much too well.
Now he’s gone to heaven,
And left me in this hell.”
The poem went on in a similar fashion for a while longer, dancing about the topic of life and death, of which I now have zero to show for because I didn’t save the poem. Rookie mistake. Writing that poem felt good. It was a medium of expression that functioned very differently from the streaming thoughts going through my head at the time, and being able to capture my thoughts in this way was refreshing. For whatever reason, after that single poem, I stopped writing.
When my son passed away in March, I picked the pen back up after seven years and began medicating my thoughts once again with the virtual ink of a word processor. This time around the words flowed in the form of essays and blog posts instead of poem, and it felt just as good. I have written every day since, and found a version of me that I didn’t know existed. It’s one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself.
You haven’t lived my story, and I haven’t lived yours. Which is precisely why you should be writing. Whether it’s writing for yourself, or writing for the world to read, your unique set of circumstances and experiences is a wealth of knowledge to draw from.
You will learn things about yourself that you never knew.
You will explore emotions that don’t regularly surface.
You will spark creativity that may be laying dormant.
You will hone a skill that carries over into other parts of your life.
You will help discover you. Not the you that is displayed to the outside world, or the you that runs a million miles an hour in your brain every day, but the you that is an artist, a learner, and a teacher.
I hear from countless people every week that say they’ve always thought about writing or blogging, but have never taken the leap to do so. Just take the leap. You don’t have to write about your life or about pain. You don’t have to write fiction or non-fiction. You don’t have to write poetry or narrative or short story. You just need to write. There are thoughts in your head that need to find their way out. The pen or keystroke can be the conduit to help them escape. So why not open that conduit up and see what spills out? After all, you might just find you.