My mom tells me all the time, You’re going to be a writer. I think writing is going to become something for you.
And thank God for sweet mamas like mine, because if I didn’t keep hearing that affirmation, I’m not sure I would believe it myself. One of my favorite blog posts of all time is by Christina Hubbard at Creative & Free – “When You Want to Introduce Yourself as the Real You.” She recounts a time she quick to brush off the significance of her role as a mother when someone asked her what she did for a living at a conference, and shares the value in learning to own who you are, whatever those identifiers may be, because we all have worth in our becoming. Pretty often, I’m not quick to call myself a writer, because in every way that matters, I feel like I’m still very much in the process of becoming one.
For years, I’ve put pen to paper as a way to get out all of the thoughts rattling around in my brain. Too long without writing a poem, a song, a paragraph, a page, or several, and my head starts to feel too full. It’s not just that I’ve got too many thoughts and ideas bouncing around in there, it’s that I find myself choosing between being where I am in the moment and holding onto them. When life happens and the only way to keep going is to take it one thing at a time, writing is the thing that falls to the bottom of that list. And when I make that choice, those thoughts and ideas that are big – truth to tease out, questions to wrestle, sparks to fan into flames, all about who God is and what He’s doing in my life and who I am and what I’m doing with my life and the things of this world and my place in them – they happen, they flare up for a moment, and then they fade away before I can grasp hold of them and really find out what they have to tell me. At the end of the long day, sometimes I just want to put in my headphones, lay down, and think about all the things I haven’t had time to fully think about yet. And yet, it’s only a matter of minutes until I reach for my laptop or my journal or my phone and I capture that concept with words, I pin it to the page with letters and consonants and constructions that make it what it is, and make it mine.
Last week, I lingered after my strategies for academic production (read: writing) Spanish class as everyone else trooped out the door so that my professor could finish grading the last page of my paper. This is my favorite class and my favorite professor in Buenos Aires. Not only am I becoming a better writer in Spanish, but my capacity to understand and engage on topics of construction and communication in writing in another language has reaffirmed my love for writing in such an unexpected way. And my professor’s knowledge and understanding of how to use words to your advantage, how to construct your sentences to convey what you mean and not just what you say, blow me away every class. So when she handed back my paper and complimented me on my writing, it was a compliment I took seriously. What I wasn’t expecting was her next question: “Do you want to write after college?”
Do I want to write after college? I never want to stop writing. I see these beautifully designed blogs full to bursting with words on the web every day and I want to chase after that dream. I want to dive into the world of ebooks and never come up for air, never look back. But, I explained, stumbling over my words in Spanish, I also want to be a history teacher, I want to invest in students’ understanding of their own citizenship and the power they have in every moment to create what happens next. I also want to read for the rest of my life, spend forever with my nose in all the books I can get my hands on, and I want to never stop learning about the past and the way it’s created my present. I’m torn between these loves – education, writing, history – and I’m not sure where they’ll lead me. “That’s my problem,” I said, half-joking, “I’ve just got too many interests. I’ve got to narrow it down.”
In an instant, something shifted in our lighthearted conversation, and my professor looked me square in the eye like she had truth to share and she knew it.
“That is not a problem.”
She went on to tell me her story, how she had pursued several different areas of study and even been down several different successful career paths before coming to linguistics and Spanish and the position she is in today. She wanted me to leave knowing that it was possible to love more than one option, and chase them all. I left that conversation struck by those words and wondering – how often do I see my passion as a problem? How often do I see writing as something that interferes with my intentions for my life, or as merely a hobby rather than a habit? How often do I deny myself worth in my becoming?
So let me introduce you to the real me. I’m a lover of words and the power they have to let me put meaning to my story, to let me link it to the Bigger Story my God has been weaving together since the dawn of time, and letting me share those little snippets I glean of that during my time on this earth with the rest of the world. I’m a lover of language, of its power to construct connections and to give each of us as individuals something in common, that you have the means to share the way your see the world and I have the means to receive it. I’m a lot of different things, and I beginning to come to terms with the realization that I will never be easy for myself or anyone else to figure out. But if I’m becoming a little more every day of the person God has created me to be, than that is something worth documenting. And for that, I am a writer.