I have always loved to read. When I started, I remember being in awe of the characters created within the stories — how I could be a witness to their thoughts and emotions, how I felt like they were my friends and, in a way, how I could find pieces of myself in each of them. Naturally, my love of reading turned into a passion for writing.
My earliest memory of attempting to write down my own thoughts was in my sixth-grade science class. I vividly remember adoring the college-ruled notebook my parents had just bought me, and with my tiny handwriting, I began scribbling words all over it. I started to share my writing through my obsession at the time, “High School Musical” fan fiction (which I can’t believe I’m admitting). After a couple years, I dabbled in writing a few songs with my younger sister, and by the time I was in college, Microsoft Word had become the safekeeper of my countless drafts and stories.
My goals with writing were uncertain for a while. Truthfully, I didn’t believe much of what I conjured up could represent anything past a flurry of thoughts that would lack sense and structure to those I shared them with — if I even shared them to begin with. All I knew was that, somehow, in my struggles to voice my thoughts aloud, I had the comfort of words. The multitude of intricacies in which they could be placed were my haven and one of the few instances I could look back and reflect on what I would otherwise bottle up.
Five years ago, with some encouragement from my friends and in a spur of bravery, I made a goal to write a book one day. What it would encompass, I wasn’t sure, but it sounded like a cool plan. Inspired by Lang Leav and Rupi Kaur, their pieces held a sense of vulnerability that I couldn’t even fathom publicizing but was something I strived for anyway. After contemplating fonts and signatures, I took a leap of faith in starting an account on Instagram and publishing part of a story I wrote of a recent heartbreak. Then, I shared the post on my personal account.
Even after years of writing, I acknowledge that it can still be scary, and even the reasoning behind that fear holds layers. It can be scary to stare at a blank canvas and not know where it will go. It can be scary to think that your writing can hit a dead end before you even reach the second paragraph. But, in my experience, the scariest part is allowing your walls to fall and coming face-to-face with the feelings you thought you didn’t have time for. Don’t get me wrong — to this day, when classmates or old friends give me a follow, I become flustered, and my initial reaction spirals into the possibility of being looked at differently because, essentially, my feelings are out there for the world to see. However, this experience, filled with moments of panic and worries of judgment, reminds me that this massive jump I made was not for anybody but myself. School can bring daily stresses with studying and extracurriculars. However, writing relieves me of the mindset that I need to actively work but instead lets me sit with and embrace the parts of myself that don’t relate to school. In this space I created, I have been able to relate the publishing of a post with peace — the releasing of anything heavy I may be carrying from school or my personal life. I am thankful to have that.
I truly believe that everybody should write. Even if what is initially written down isn’t perfect, take the time to remind yourself that nothing can truly be perfect, so why place that unrealistic expectation on your words? Writing is about finding your flow. And truthfully, sometimes I start writing thinking that I know which route it will take, and often, I get carried in a different direction. But I’ve found that the beauty of writing lies in watching your work unfold before you. Whether that be in poetry, creative writing or even keeping a journal, the experience itself is cathartic.
Invest in and be patient with the process. Allow the stories you write to serve as a witness to your thoughts and emotions, and if it compels you, relate them to your friends. You never know if whatever you share could allow others to find pieces of themselves within your creations as well.
~ Hannah Tran, Tufts ‘24