My Anchor, Words
I haven’t always loved words. I was homeschooled my whole life, and without the comparison of other kids my age, I didn’t know what I was good or bad at–a double-edged sword, to be sure. To me, writing was not a joy but merely a dull task to be gotten through. And it was many years before I would recognize the potential in my own work.
Then, at age fourteen, I started a blog–mostly inspirational-type stuff written for other teenagers. It felt like a calling. As I published more and more posts, I began to recognize the sacredness of what I was doing. My readers were encouraged by the things I wrote, and it seemed to make a difference in their lives. But the person that was changed the most by my writing was me. People were going to read what I wrote, so it mattered that I wrote truth effectively and elegantly. My communication skills grew by leaps and bounds.
Four years later, I was a freshman at college in an English class. I had not yet learned how to cram, so I stayed up half the night working on that first essay with little success. The next morning, when I woke up and returned to it, the words finally flowed. But I was so tired I hardly knew what I was saying, which made me think it must not be great. To my surprise, when my professor gave back my essay a week later, he told me that it was a solid paper. I was elated.
That first essay went well, but it was the best one I wrote all semester long. What I would later learn was a severe bout of depression–a battle I’ve faced since I was ten years old–swept across my life, fogging my mind and making it impossible for me to think clearly for months. In class discussions, I struggled to form sentences–only to forget them when they were halfway out my mouth. Writing essays was a nightmare, as I stared at my laptop screen for hours, trying in vain to put my jumbled thoughts into words.
And yet, it was words that sustained me in those days–not my words, but the words of others. I might not be able to put a sentence together, but I could still quote Bible verses, bits of poetry, and lines from movies that I had once memorized. What others had written, giving their souls on paper, anchored me. Their labor was what kept me from drifting away.
At the end of the semester, I was diagnosed with depression and prescribed some tiny white pills that I still take two years later. The medicine cleared the fog in my mind, and finally, I could glimpse the light. I started my second English class, and this time, I could finally find the right words and put them together in a way that was satisfying. My professor encouraged me and helped me to improve, and for the first time in my life, I realized that my writing might actually be good.
Regardless of whether or not I’m a good writer today, I still love it. It isn’t my goal to ever make any kind of money off my writing, but that doesn’t matter to me, because the words are still intrinsically valuable. They gave me life when I was drowning, and now, I have found my own words and use them to ground me. And I hope that, as I write and share more, my words might be the lifesaver that gives hope to others.