The blank page never scared me. White page. Flashing cursor.
As an elementary kid, I wrote and illustrated little books. In my short story about animals snowmobiling together, I made sure—though inconvenient—the porcupine was included. I took a college writing course in high school and adored the moment my teacher said, “This is what writing is about.” In college, I was offended when my mass communication teacher graded me harshly, but surprise, surprise, I think she’s brilliant.
I always preferred long-answer tests. I figured I could write my way into a correct answer. It worked most of the time. I preferred writing my thoughts because I had time to prepare, edit, refine, and perfect.
Because of this, I labeled myself an introvert. Someone who needs time to think things through before sharing their ideas.
My junior year of college, I studied abroad in Ireland and started my first blog. I never kept a journal for more than a week, so a semester-long (read: 4-year+) blog is something my 10-year-old self never anticipated.
In grad school, I realized I was weird. I was energized by the thought of writing a 34-page comprehensive exam. And weirder yet, I was energized by the actual process of writing it. We received the prompt at 12:44 AM. Either I woke up to read it or was still awake. Probably the latter, like a child waiting for Santa. As with any piece of writing, it is crucial to determine the purpose. That was my goal for this comprehensive exam—what were the faculty actually trying to assess?
I dissected the prompt, highlighted the questions, and synthesized my ideas. I wrote and rewrote, read and reread. And after 3 weeks, submitted my work.
While in graduate school, I secured a full-time position as a career consultant (my original intention two years prior). After several months in my role, unforeseen circumstances led to my resignation and relocation. On October 15, I decided to write as a freelancer while searching for a full-time position.
This is when I realized I didn’t like writing because I was an introvert, it’s because I am a writer.
While the blank page never scared me, that phrase did: I am a writer.
After October 15, the question, “What do you do?”, became increasingly difficult to answer. “I’m a writer.”, wasn’t a natural response. For some reason, it seemed fraudulent. Inauthentic. I cycled through different responses to the I-just-met-you prompt. “I have a degree in higher education, but…”, “I’ve teamed up with several startup companies…”. Every response required more explanation than comfortable. And more doubt than preferred.
That’s the first time I unapologetically introduced myself as a writer.