This is my final column, so I thought it’d be fitting to reflect on my relationship with writing.
Starting from a young age, I documented my life through the form of writing. It began with parodying illustrated journals such as “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” in my school composition notebook, before growing into a more sophisticated blogspot, then to an angsty Tumblr, and finally, to my current medium. I also write on my phone and have amassed more than 11,000 notes in the past seven years.
In my journals, I write and draw how my days go by: what I do, who I see, what I eat, how I feel, any reflections and thoughts for the future. I have a detailed account of how almost every day has gone by for the past decade. For a few years, it was such an ingrained habit that I could not go to sleep without writing about my day.
Although few read what I write, I always wrote with a large imaginary audience. The fact that I knew there wasn’t actually an audience grounded me in being real and sharing the raw moments of my life.
I’m not fully aware as to why I was so persistent in my writing practice, but looking back, writing provided me with a solid companion. I wanted to share my moments of joy, sorrows and sometimes even petty complaints.
I also wanted to offload memories and permanently mark them somewhere. If I have no written account, it feels like that part of life loosely drifts away. There’s so much constantly happening that my mind simply cannot contain all of it, like sand falling through a mesh bag.
Writing is a storytelling medium that has a low barrier to entry as compared to, say, music or videos. You don’t need many complex tools — just your mind, paper and pen.
Text is also one of the most seductive mediums out there as the audience orchestrates a symphony with the author as they read.
I joined a creative writing circle last summer where we talked a lot about our writing ideas, shared past snippets and gave others feedback — but didn’t actually write that much ourselves. So when I saw the chance to apply for opinion columnist at The Daily Californian this summer, I immediately jumped at it.
I remember reading past columns and feeling goosebumps at how in-depth, nuanced and spectacular every piece was. I learned a lot and was able to gain new perspectives.
My GSI for an English course told me that writing is how you transform the abstract into reality. Without your ideas written down, you don’t know what you’re really thinking.
Similarly, this summer of introspection and writing has allowed me to gain new understandings of myself. I chronicle the different ways in which I leaned into my creativity and why I made those changes.
I wanted to challenge my own notion of what I can and cannot do, so I started singing and joined the campus Taiko ensemble. I wanted to become a closer, more mindful observer of life, both through reading texts and examining life’s textures. I discussed my unyielding love for food and how design probes me to imagine better possibilities.
I have unlocked a deeper appreciation for life through my participation in the arts and other creative pursuits.
While many of my ventures are about connecting with others and building community, the most important person I want to change is myself. I’m proud of myself for embracing my identity as a creative person.
I’ve struggled through my insecurities, and know now to just do it — “it” being the arts, the things that invigorate me, the activities that bring me so much joy.
Before starting college, I wrote to myself, “time oriented towards discovery and embracing the unexpected will be infinitely more rewarding than time following a plan.”
While there is much uncertainty in my future, I know that part of life’s joy is navigating through ambiguity, and seeing such ambiguity as possibility.
I’m grateful to have reflected personally on why creativity and belonging are important to me and look forward to starting my senior year so I can examine these topics through classes and research.
I was really worried at the beginning of this summer that my writing would be no good. But now, I know that what is more important than being a good writer is to just be real. This is my mind and life: choppy, raw, inundated with detours and frolics, laughter and tears.
Even though my role as a columnist is ending, I don’t intend to stop writing.
I want to continue my writing practice and write more personal essays and creative nonfiction. Perhaps in my remaining two semesters, I will finally get into a coveted creative writing class (I’ve already tried thrice). Maybe I’ll finally stick it through NaNoWriMo (a writing challenge in the month of November).
I believe that writing and sharing your writing are some of the best ways to find your tribe: people who share similar (or dissenting) values and ideas with you.
I hope that if anything I wrote resonated with you, you’ll write back to me. And if you have any inkling of sharing your story, remember that there’s always space for your voice out in this world.