A girl I went to high school with once accused me of sleeping with our writing teacher in order to get straight A’s in the class. I’ll just wait here while you pick your jaw up off the floor. We were juniors at the time (do I really need to say that I was still very much a virgin then?). She did it in front of a large group of our classmates in room 15, the one with the steep step up to the basketball court.
At first it was all slow motion and foggy, like I’d heard her wrong. But the mean look on her face and the quivering anger in her voice indicated otherwise. I couldn’t stand everyone staring at me, mouths agape, as a heavy blanket of silence fell over the room. So I ran out, called my mom in tears and asked her to come and get me. I’d been shamed, somehow turned into a small child again; yet I hadn’t done anything wrong. My grades sucked in everything else, but writing? That was my one true thing. I earned those A’s, and it wasn’t by hopping into my teacher’s bed.
I didn’t stand up for myself. I didn’t confront her. I ran away. As is my tendency.
Later on as a freshman in college, my peer review group in one of my classes informed me that I “used too many big words.” Our professor had asked us to to read each other’s work and give critiques. I was completely crushed. And I took it personally, which I shouldn’t have. Perhaps my sensitive nature got the better of me. As it tends to do.
I’m a writer, people. It’s what I do. I’m a sculptor of words. I mold and shape them, manipulate them. Give them depth, breadth and feeling, make them convey what I want. It’s me, who I am at my core. It’s why I’m shy, why I’m not a banker or a doctor or an actress. Besides, I’m terrible at math, science, and public speaking. This girl just wants to write.
Old habits die hard; I’ve let these things live and thrive in my memory, pervade my entire existence, belittle me, convince me I have no real talent. I realized after reading Julie’s post over at Dutch Being Me yesterday that I’m just beginning to respect myself (long overdue). Did that high school girl think I couldn’t have just one thing to myself? Everyone else has a niche, why not me?
Writing is mine. I claim it now.
I. Am. A. Writer.
No one can take that from me.
And now for a cheesy blast from the past.
“You have no power over me.”