Some weeks, it feels like I spend every waking hour writing. Whether it’s for The News-Letter, a class paper, or even just for fun, it still blows my mind that some weeks at Hopkins I write more than I would have done in the entirety of my hardest high school semesters. I can’t blame anyone but myself for this. In my four semesters here, I’ve taken eight writing intensive classes. I don’t have to write nearly an article a week for The News-Letter, but I want to. Even on weekends, when I find a new album or movie I’m really into, I will write a review only to delete it. Even though nobody reads these pieces, through them I gain a greater understanding and appreciation for the art I’m consuming, which is what matters to me.
Throughout middle school, I was a solid B student. I remember this so clearly because my mom always told me, “You know, grades are important in high school. You’re going to have to start trying.” I said I would when it mattered, and she’d roll her eyes and walk away. In the end, she trusted me because in all honesty, nobody cares in middle school. If I knew I already understood algebra from class, why would I do pointless practice at home? (Oh, how I wish this logic still applied).
She knew I was going to be okay. I was engaged in the material I learned, and spent time exploring academic interests outside of school. When I applied myself, she saw I could work. However, to this day my mom admits that going into high school, the one thing she was truly concerned about was my writing.
But as long as I could become ‘okay,’ it didn’t really matter, as I was heading head first into a STEM field. In my first two years of high school I was part of a special science research class that took me to competitions across the state of North Carolina. The results of the PSAT put me somewhere between architect, civil engineer, and mechanical engineer. Despite her pleas to put in more effort, I was still able to relatively coast through my science and math courses.
However, by the end of my sophomore year, I realized something. My skill set all pointed towards STEM, and everyone told me I should go into a STEM field. But I just didn’t like it. I found the topics interesting but not inspiring. I put exponentially more work into my social studies and English classes, but I also derived more pride from the work I produced. They frustrated me to no end, as I encountered one mental barrier after another while I attempted to improve. But this frustration bred passion.
So as my junior year approached, and I was deciding what I wanted to do with my life, I faced two options: I could do what I was good at, but ambivalent towards, or I could embrace the love I had started to develop for some of the highest academic hurdles I faced. As we know now, I chose the latter.
I should mention, my discovery of writing was not any fault of my own. I wouldn’t have found it without my freshman year English teacher who saw my potential. Or the history teacher that forewent his lunch break three times a week to teach myself and a group of five other students European politics, without pay. Or my senior project mentor, who helped me overcome some of the anxieties I had about my writing as she oversaw a series of articles I wrote for my local newspaper.
Writing still doesn’t come naturally to me. As I continue to grow as a writer, I also continue to recognize my shortcomings. However, the value writing adds to my life is well worth a little extra effort.