By Jong Won, Lifewriting intern
February 24, 2019
In grade six, after endless pleading from my mom (who writes poetry) to write consistently, I gave in and began writing in a diary. I’m glad my mom forced it out of me because by around grade nine I had around 200 pages of childhood reflections on my laptop. Looking back, it’s funny that I wrote the most in grade seven when I thought I was depressed because I still use writing as a coping mechanism when situations go awry.
Writing for me has largely been a process of self discovery and analysis, but of course there is so much that is embedded in the words “self discovery.” I read a few years ago a quote by Guillaume Morissette, an up-and-coming author: “Writing is the closest thing to thinking.” Having been an over-thinker since elementary school, this made complete sense to me; it helped me understand why writing gives me such a cathartic effect.
I would describe my thinking as a Tornado, spinning, picking up everything in its path, winding and winding. Not very effective when I’d like to make a good first impression, be rational in confrontations, or be “cool” in a situation, but what is this adolescent notion of cool, if not acceptance? Writing gave me a place to be cool, to reflect and then to accept my self and my thoughts. It’s mind boggling how, in our day and age, individuals still find difficulty in finding safe spaces of acceptance, especially if you are out of the “norm.” Writing for ourselves does not necessarily give us answers, but like meditation or other exercises of mindfulness, just by spilling ourselves onto the page and hopefully accepting it as something that is a part of you, there can be a cathartic effect of acceptance. Everywhere I go, I see and feel the pressure to conform and to be someone else. Often it seems we are split between several aspects of our lives, but in a way that weakens the aspects of ourselves that truly make us special. As a result, I see the cropping up of harmful homogeneity: harmful and often discriminatory habits and beliefs are continually developed as we conform to our surroundings rather than question them and attempt to grow in new directions. I believe the process of writing can combat harmful homogeneity through finding and creating your own self and, in the process, questioning it.
When you write something down about your day, a thought you had, or a certain conflict, you have put an aspect of yourself into existence. It is no longer an amalgamation of thoughts, feelings, or conflicts within your mind, but something that you believe happened. I think this is incredibly beautiful. It’s as if you’ve given yourself to the world and, now separate, yet still a part of you, like a dual consciousness, you can observe this other being and attempt to understand it. I think it’s important to understand that what you write has been written by you, but it does not mean that it is you, therefore you have been given the space to analyze it. When those words are on paper, and they come out true to yourself in any given moment. Whether you like it or not, you must face yourself and your thinking. I don’t think a process of self reflection is easy. To analyze with a magnifying glass how our actions and beliefs influence our life and others is bound to bring up deep pains, a seemingly endless barrage of questions and existential angst, but like anything worth doing it will be difficult. But, also, I think there is great freedom in this, after having put yourself on the page, you can choose what you think of it and what to do about it. This has been my experience with writing, but like thinking, it will present itself in a myriad of different ways. So, my final note to the reader is: put yourself out into the world, discover yourself, write!