This is not for the sake of arrogance nor for the pursuit of acclamation, but rather a mere acknowledgement that from the tender age of 7, I have possessed an insatiable hunger to place pen on paper and preserve my thoughts, for I wished not to let them be as evanescent as fleeting images, which they could readily be reduced to, unless I wrote them down.
I wrote for the school publication for the length of my elementary and high school years. It kept me occupied and gave me an unequalled sense of fulfillment – one that filled me with a certain pride and joy whenever readers examined my work and found that it had moved them at some level. I felt that I was doing what I was born to do; that I had purpose. I wrote about almost everything from the mundane to the fantastic, and did not stop until my mind begged for rest. But in between the lines was hidden a well-kept secret that only I knew about and never planned to reveal to anyone else – that is, until now.
When addressing the subject of my passion for writing, which usually occurred after having read my work, people usually claimed that although they enjoyed reading, they were disinclined to produce the written work for the reason that they found they could not forge the words to resemble the picture that they wanted to paint. It was easy to think things but very difficult to put them in writing and still have the exact same image, not one that was reduced to fit the length of the paper or restrained by the simple sense of the words. I would not deny that I have also faced such a predicament, however, it was not this that had continued to press and trouble me all these years. What I had fervently kept under wraps was that although I had all the freedom to express my innermost thoughts and make them public, I never truly did.
Not the innermost, at least. When picking out topics to write about, I always went for the relatively superficial: The Importance of Nutrition, The Essence of Language, The Value of Hope, The Need for Peace. I never found the courage to address the things that I felt strongly about, and those that revealed my self rather than the issues concerned because I didn’t want to share a portion of me to the world. It’s not real sharing if it doesn’t hurt, and I always made sure that I stayed in a place where it never did. I chose always to write about subjects where the argument was obvious. One might say that I wrote only to express what some people could not articulate in words, but already had in mind. Then I crafted those thoughts to touch a more personal level, exploring a new perspective every once in a while, and that was what got me all the positive feedbacks.
I would not say I did not write such pieces that “revealed myself,” only that I did not submit them for publication. Regrettably enough, my best works fell into this category. I could read them over and over again without leaning to dissatisfaction with the unique eloquence that sprung from the spontaneity and novelty of sufficient contemplation. The truth was, whenever I made my self a subject about which I wrote, I had to break into fragments – figuratively – if introspection were to be made possible, then every word in that poem or essay or story would become a part of me – fragile fragments of my person that I simply could not let go of. I found security in maintaining the privacy of my own thoughts and in keeping a lid on the complex emotions that came with them. And so I kept it that way. I stayed within my comfort zone and reserved such pieces for no other eyes but my own.
I became editor-in-chief of the school publication, and except for when I was given assignments to cover for the paper, I did not write to get published anywhere else although I truly wanted to. There was a conflict going on inside me: On one hand, I had this unquenchable thirst to write; on the other hand, there was this lingering fear of losing a part of myself whenever I did. I could not deny that I greatly enjoyed the sense of achievement that came with a by-line, and I knew I would deeply miss that feeling if, for any reason, I ever had to stop writing.
It was time to finalize the last issue, and an additional piece or two in the poetry section would have been well appreciated. “Why don’t you write a poem about love?” Our moderator asked me one afternoon. I had already submitted one about nature and what would become of the earth if we didn’t make an effort to save it – a little too overused, I know – but that wasn’t the same, he said. Of course it wasn’t. Love is magic, and everybody wants to write about it. I spent the last remaining days contemplating on whether or not I should take the offer and write. To some degree, I felt obligated on account of my position as the EIC to fill in what was needed before we published, but in a whole other level I found it very difficult to do so. Love was a very personal thing, and the only way to verbalize it was to pour your heart out. At the end of the week, the paper was released. I never wrote the poem.
Up until the end of high school, my position in the editorial board became an outlet to appease my strong desire to reach others through writing, despite the unending conflict that I had inside. But then I went to college and the schedules were too tight, I couldn’t squeeze in extracurricular activities. My writing was put on hold to make way for my studies, which took up most of my time. I did still write, though, when I had a moment free. The passion was still there; it had not died out like I thought it would when I finally took a long break from scribbling. It urged me persistently every single day and so I kept writing – even if it was only a one-line quote – to keep myself from thinking about grabbing a pen during my study periods. And as semester after semester passed, the yearning to get my work “out there” grew even stronger.
I’ve had a lot of doubts about writing this article; I was so sure about it when I started, but at this point, after having divulged my inner struggle and having fixed it in ink, the little voice cries out again and tells me to scrap it, and believe me, I’ve thought about doing so a hundred times. Then it dawned on me as I was watching the evening news: Maybe I wasn’t alone; maybe what I was going through was more common than I thought. Perhaps this was why people have been starving in the streets; perhaps this was why poverty has always been an issue; perhaps this was why not all qualified voters have registered, or why social injustice has not been fully addressed, or why illegal logging has not stopped. Perhaps people were only willing to hand over that part of themselves they were comfortable sharing, picking out the relatively superficial rather than making sacrifices for the good of the general public. Maybe they were afraid of losing something, too, like their time, their money, or their image. Maybe this wasn’t just my personal issue after all.
I sat myself down and thought about it. It was rather difficult to concentrate with the little voice in my head trying to be selfish again, like it always was, but I fought it – or at least I tried. I looked back on all the years I’ve wasted, trying to hide the gift that was given to me. If writing gave me purpose, why didn’t I strive to overcome the barriers that kept me from doing it? What exactly was I waiting for? I may hesitate every now and then when I see the need to go beyond the superficial things; I may try to make excuses just so I could stop whenever I ease away from my comfort zone; I may never even get used to sharing those little fragments of myself that I’ve spent so long to protect – but I can’t not write.