It has very suddenly occurred to me that, as an English major with writing emphasis, I am going to have to write a heck of A LOT more in college than I do right now. So, I’m going to try to write blog posts much more often to help remedy that, just to get in the practice and discipline. Any critiques you guys have to offer will be appreciated.
I wrote this little essay thing, built upon my earlier blog post “Paradox,” as part of my college application for the University of Oklahoma. I took the “write about any other prompt or idea you want as long as it helps us get to know you” option, all risk involved. This is going to sound terribly pompous, but I was kind of tired of writing the typical college app essay and I knew that, with my test scores and extracurriculars, I was almost certain to get in. And if I didn’t, I’d already been accepted to my top choice school, so it wasn’t life or death anymore. Again, pompous I know, I’m sorry. But I went for it, and I’m quite proud of how it turned out. Also, side note: I literally wrote this at 11pm the night the December 31st, 11:59pm deadline for the application was due, (at this point, Ms. Brooks, are you even surprised?) so I’ve gone back and edited it a bit.
I love writing; it is my passion. If anyone has ever been born to write, it is me. When I was young and “too shy,” talking to people, strangers or friends, was intimidating and impossible. My thoughts and opinions were trapped behind a fear I didn’t know how to overcome. I had so much to say, but never the courage nor opportunity to say it. Once people learn you’re shy, they stop expecting anything from you. So I wrote it down. Everything. Written words became my escape.
I have often been told I am too quiet, I should speak up more, there is something wrong with me, I shouldn’t be so quiet, I should project my voice. To write is to raise my voice; when written, it is loud and present and certain. My writing projects in ways I otherwise cannot. Writing has become my voice. Pen and paper is my stage, my home-field advantage, both my comfort zone and the platform in which I am challenged most.
Meeting these challenges, weathering storms, is arduous and freeing all at once. Though as much as I pine for freedom, when it seems as though nothing is quite worth it anymore– not quite enough– the overwhelming loom of arduousness seeks to win. Motivation fades. Diligence and devotion and apathy bleed into grey, like watered-down black ink seeps into pure white paper; all is grey. And empty and full, and falling apart and coming together. All at once. A paradox. It is writing, the act of composing, painting words into thoughts and phrases and truths, gracefully and unceremoniously in sync, that allows me to make sense of the grey. To starve the apathy and revive the devotion. I have found that to write is to bleed. Emotions, memories, heartaches, joy. To write is to bleed feelings and ideas and gentle or passionate musings into words that implore the rest of the world, whether those compositions reach one person or many.
I usually admire paradoxes, particularly the paradox of people. The empty and full, the falling apart and coming together. The beautiful, ungraceful hypocrisy and contradiction and inconsistency that make us human. But when empty and full are simultaneous, and dissonance and harmony rage to be synonymous, my adoration of paradox wanes. And simplicity appears so much more appealing. So much easier, so much kinder. Of course it is all smoke and mirrors. Utter simplicity is boredom. It is the glint of the sun on an empty champagne bottle, the shimmer of glass in a broken window pane, the fresh coat of paint on a vacant rental house. Simplicity is deterioration. Writing is not simplicity. It is complex and demanding, yet in it is clarity and freedom. Once again, a paradox.
Our existence is, in itself, paradoxical: an ephemeral body and an eternal soul. To be human is to be a paradox; a contradiction. Good and bad; dark and light. Loud and soft; kind and cruel. Right and wrong; black and white. And grey. Always grey. Black ink on white paper. Isn’t it interesting how, sometimes, words are the black ink, seeping into a shimmering white heart, suffocating the glow. The black ink of “you should be louder,” of “you shouldn’t be like this,” of “you’d be better if you weren’t so quiet.” And other times, words are the water, clean and good, washing away the afflicting ink, returning the shine. The cleansing water of “this is the most amazing thing I’ve ever read,” of “I had no idea you could write like that,” of simply “keep writing, darling.” Words, by themselves, are only arbitrary letters strung ceaselessly together. But they become recklessly paradoxical when they are wielded by creatures who are as such, a paradox. They can be tumultuously painful or irreparably good, depending solely on the tongue who speaks them. Words are our power. Utterly unique to us as humans is the sovereignty and capability of written language. And with it, we can either break someone down to dust, or empower them, strengthen them, encourage them in their own unceasing, enigmatic beauty.