Neglecting my own personal writing has been something I have gotten used to over the past four years of my college career. Now graduated, I hear people talk about how they rarely write for fun anymore because work and families and daily life get in the way of writing for one’s own personal portfolio.
I can’t let this happen to me — yet. Really, I shouldn’t ever let it happen.
I freelance often, since I am in limbo, just having graduated college in May and job searching/interviewing in the meantime. I write for a variety of publications, including an online food magazine, a digital news outlet, as well as my university’s marketing and communications. Most of my day is spent writing for these publications, and when I’m not writing, I’m job searching. And when I’m not doing that, I’m taking pictures of my cat(s) and creating Instagram accounts for said cat(s) (see @zooeythetabby on Instagram).
How can I possibly find the time to write for myself?
And if and when I sit down to even begin to write something “worthwhile,” I always end up sending things to the draft folder or scrapping it altogether. Who will read it? What will they think? Will they care?
These are the questions I ask myself, and then by the end, I decide not to write.
I’m constantly battling with myself trying to figure out what it is that I should write because I have gotten to the point where I care so much about the words that people are reading. These words are coming out of my brain, and into the keyboard to some sort of blog post, magazine article, social media something-or-other. I write for multiple publications because I care about updating people on what is happening in the community. I transfer this mentality of who is seeing it, why are they caring, how is it news, how many clicks will I get…into my own personal writing (*if you write for news, you understand how I might feel).
Everything becomes a measurement. Each sentence I type becomes judged…do I keep it? Does it make sense? What am I saying?
I recently started writing in a journal, just to get back into this feel of nonjudgmental writing and writing purely for the sake of “writing.” Journals are a symbol of this secret kept, this hideaway book stashed under pillows so our brothers won’t find it and read it. Each curly-gel-penned signature at the end of the post was this simple little sign off, like the journal was a person listening to our thoughts, understanding the words on paper. It’s so private, so innocent.
My favorite journal was this spiral bound silver and shimmery square notebook. Hearts drawn with a name called “Keith” in the center dotted the inside of the back page, and gel penned dates were at the top of each page.
I also remember writing in a password journal, which was an innovative piece of technology a 12-year-old could get her hands on [Looking back I realize how silly it was because all you had to do was pop the batteries out and you could get into the journal]
Journals give off this vibe that you’re talking to someone that will never judge you, interrupt you, give you looks, get distracted, or make you feel like you’re wasting its time. Then again, it is just a book bound together and it’s totally inanimate. It’s just this little safe haven where you can pour all your secrets into.
Another reason I have neglected my blog and my personal writing is because towards the end of my college career, I found myself increasingly overwhelmed, and anything that wasn’t on the high priority to-do list was just not important. I found myself increasingly anxious, depressed, agitated, stressed…panicking…about my future.
And it all makes sense, given a recent study by The New York Times, which pointed out that one in six college students will develop an anxiety disorder during their college career. The pressure to succeed and do well and become more than a statistic, it’s all too real and it’s all too much.
I believe now that my issues had developed before college but increased around sophomore and junior year. Anxiety is something that I live with, along with several other members of my family, and it’s so hard to explain to people how debilitating it can be. People tell you to just breathe, do yoga, relax, don’t be so stressed. It’s not easy, and if it was, I’m assuming there would be more yoga instructors and less pharmaceuticals.
Recognizing that I have/had depression has been eye opening, and I’ve found that once you talk to people about it, you find how many other people are going through the same thing. And from coming to terms with myself, who I am, and what I’m going through, and finding what I need to do to be “okay,” I’ve found that writing in a journal and writing finally for pleasure, is what I need to do.
A friend who’s a nurse recently told me that when you talk to people, you’d be surprised how many are medicated [and how many should be]. It made me laugh but it also gave me some comfort. It also made me think that maybe sometimes, the feeling of pen against paper is all the therapy I need. Maybe it’s time to go back to being a writer that takes risks and makes mistakes, and stops worrying about who the story is going to reach. Maybe the person it needs to reach is the person writing it.