I’ve wanted to call myself a writer for about seven years now, but I don’t. I can’t call myself a writer because I don’t actually write. I think about writing. I dream about writing. I feel the pull of my fingers to the keyboard like a magnet. And yet, I continue not to write.
That desire to call myself a writer comes with a lot of pressure. It comes with the idea that someday, hopefully sooner rather than later, I will be good at writing. It is assumed that I will have unique stories to tell, and that I will know the best way to tell them. But I don’t. I never do. Every time I try to put words on a page, they never live up to the expectations I have for them in my head.
There is something that seems so final about writing. In reality, writing is incredibly malleable. Every word can be changed, and every thought re-written. Nothing is published until it is published. Yet there is still something so permanent in it, as though the minute the words change from abstract thoughts into concrete letters on a screen, they become real. I can look at them, I can see them for what they are, and I can judge them.
But that fear lives inside my head. It is not real, nor is it rational. Words are words, and just the act of putting them together into a sentence with intention is enough to give them meaning. And that meaning, no matter how big or small, is incredibly important. It shouldn’t matter if the first 100 things I write are small or trivial or copied. What should matter is that I am writing. Because those first one hundred attempts may not be special, but the one hundred and first could be.
The weird thing about writing is that it never really gets easier. It does not matter whether I’m sitting down to write a blog post, or an academic essay, or a journal entry. There is always some fear that I have to move past in order to put words on a page. Sometimes that fear is small, and other times it feels insurmountable, but it is always there in some form or another. Maybe that’s a good thing.
I think the things that scare us the most are the things that we hold most important. I worry about the well-being of my friends and family, because they’re important to me and I don’t know what I would do without them. I worry about my health and my grades, because my life is important to me, and I don’t have a lot of time to get it right. I worry about writing because such a large piece of my heart is dedicated to it, and my happiness depends on it.
Writing terrifies me. I don’t think that fear will ever go away. But that fear is equally matched with hope and longing and desire, which tells me that I have to do it anyway. There are always going to be things in life that scare us, but I think fear is our minds’ way of telling us that those things are the most important. Don’t ignore them. Don’t push them away. Walk toward them with intention. It won’t be easy. It will be a difficult choice you will have to make every single day. But that’s how you get stronger. That’s how you make your dreams happen.