“So basically you want to write, and by doing that, hopefully clear the demons out of your head?” my therapist inquired.
“Yes, that’s exactly it.”
It was time to pick classes for sophomore year, and I approached my English teacher with a little bit of a spring in my step. I had done well, I don’t remember the letter grade, and I figured it was time for me to move up to the next level. After all, how hard could it really be? I asked her point blank if she’d endorse me for the honors course, and I’ll never forget how she responded:
“Oh Adam, I don’t think you’re a good enough writer.”
There was a hint of sadness in her voice when she said it. The funny thing was, I didn’t argue. I was astounded by her brutal honesty, but I thought that the ruling was fair. I didn’t think of myself as an especially gifted writer, and I also didn’t particularly like it.
I didn’t fight my teacher’s ruling that day, but that doesn’t mean I forgot about it either. I held onto this memory for so many years, but I didn’t understand why. I understand why my friend’s Dad yelling at me during little league stuck with me. After all, I’ve never been yelled at like that in my entire life. He had every right to be angry: I stole second base without receiving the order, I wasn’t fast, and I also sucked. That made sense, but something like 14 years later, my English teacher’s comment is still rattling around my brain.
During the course of my undergraduate career, I wrote many papers on various subjects, but absolutely despised the process. One of the reasons I chose economics as major was because almost all of the classes were test-based. I figured that the less I was required to write, the better my letter grades would be. I can’t say that my head was in the right place during those years; I was attempting to maximize my grades while doing as little work as humanly possible. I didn’t have the patience for writing, and the non-academic writing opportunities didn’t interest me. It was only during my ninth and final semester of college that my attitude started to change.
It was well known that the creative writing course at my school was an easy A. I didn’t need the GPA boost, but it was my last semester and I wasn’t looking to break a sweat. Something happened in that class, though, I was able to express myself in a way that I hadn’t before. I wrote poetry, and actually liked it. I wrote a piece about the last weekend I spent with my sister and father cleaning out our house in New Hampshire, which had been our summer home for so many years. My professor told me I had “voice,” and although I didn’t really know what that meant, it sounded like a positive thing.
I secretly wondered if my professor had given each and every student a compliment like the one she had given me, but I wasn’t going to be deterred. After my last collegiate final, I sat down at my kitchen table, but I didn’t relax. Instead, I whipped out my laptop, typed up an intro to a book I didn’t have fully realized, and left to get some coffee. The words seemed to spill out of me and right onto the page, and I figured that since I didn’t have a job, that this could become my hobby. I could start to write about my life, even if the books never saw the light of day. It was something to do, a way to vent my frustration. I haven’t stopped since.
My father’s junior year of college, his roommate was a doctor. Coincidentally, that was the year he realized that becoming a doctor was everything he ever wanted. I’ve always admired that, and was also envious that well into my twenties and almost thirties, that I hadn’t experienced a similar revelation, or maybe I had. Maybe I just hadn’t been fully aware of it. When I actually sat and thought about it, it turns out that the voice in my head has been telling me to write for years, and now I’m finally ready to pay attention to it.
I’ve never felt this feeling before, not in my entire life. I wake up feeling charged, almost electrified. I’m constantly thinking of different things to write about, and it’s getting to the point where I want to just pull the car over and start writing immediately. Each new idea feels like a small lightning bolt striking my brain, compelling me to write.
I’ve never felt this sense of purpose before, and I know I’ll regret it if I don’t act on it. Maybe it’s juvenile or far-fetched, but I’ve been look for something to channel my passion into my entire life, and this seems like the clear choice. I think that if you truly thirst for something in your life, you owe it to yourself to at least give it a shot. Do what you love, as cliché as that sounds.
“If you write, if you follow your dream, everything else will follow. Everything else will flow out of that,” my therapist said. I have no reason to believe otherwise, and I can’t wait to see where this road takes me. I know that I have to take a chance, and that if it doesn’t work out, I’ll know that I gave it everything I had. When your soul speaks, you should listen. I hope I never forget that.