30 Dec Importance of Writing
I recently had the honor and pleasure of working with my niece on her applications for admission to High School. It reminded me of the importance of writing, learning to write, and the hardest part of writing: Finding your voice.
At that age, twelve or thirteen years old, most of us have no connection with our own voice. School has mostly taught us by asking us to follow directions or recite answers. Our parents and families share their own opinions and beliefs. Our communities have also influenced our thinking and our construct of right and wrong. And then, beginning the journey into adolescence is the beginning of us truly defining ourselves. We have been given a strong baseline and accepted many so-called truths, yet the discovery of who we are is just starting.
The questions my niece was trying to answer were about life adversity and what she learned from it, her passions, and how she imagined serving her community. I remember answering similar questions at that age and being overwhelmed trying to figure out the right answer. What I realize more clearly now that was perhaps wholly lost on me then, is that, in this case, the right answer wasn’t the answer that the admissions officers want to hear. I would be misguided if I was trying to please them. The right answer is the one that is most honest to who I am.
So this is what I told my niece as we began the exercise of writing her answers:
Finding your voice, your honest voice, means exposing yourself to the world, to terrible judgement, to harsh criticism, to possible disappointment, to the chance that you will stand out from the crowd as different. Yet, exposing it, your voice, will always be worth it. For unless we do, we’ll never know ourselves well enough, we’ll never be liberated as a truly unique individual, we’ll never find the path to our own heart.
As we worked, I was immeasurably proud of how honestly and eloquently she was able to reflect on her life. Although I’d like to think I helped her quite a bit, I am most of all grateful for how much she helped me. She reminded me that the process of writing was critical in defining, testing, and reshaping our own beliefs. And, as scary as it can be, sharing that with the world is necessary to truly be honest with ourselves.