I taught myself to read around the age of two, so books and writing are as innate and instinctive to me as walking, talking, and breathing. Books have been the love of my life since before I was able to develop conscious memory, and while I certainly have grown and changed and lived so many different lives over the following two decades, that’s one thing that has always stayed the same.
While I can’t remember learning to read, or the first time I put pen to paper myself, I do remember the first time a book made me feel something. I was about five years old, reading my first “big chapter book”: Charlotte’s Web. When I finished that book, I think I cried for the rest of the night. I had never been so moved by something that was entirely fictional, and while I didn’t know how to articulate it at such a young age, I understood in that moment the power of words and their ability to create such complex feelings, even about something as small and seemingly insignificant as a fictional spider.
Words are powerful enough that even twenty years later, I only have to think of the final sentence of that book and I instantly revisit that combination of grief, tenderness, gentle hope, love, and recognition that while tragically fleeting, every single life has the ability to make such an impact. I’m now twenty-three and have since experienced my fair share of all of those things in my real life, but at age five, every one of those concepts was entirely new and it completely rocked me.
I wouldn’t say it was a conscious decision, but in the following years, I sought out to develop my own power through words. As a child, I mostly wrote stories about the life I wished I could have. I was quiet and anxious, so I envisioned myself as a superhero saving the world, unconsciously allowing myself to experience what I was too afraid of in my real life. I wrote similar stories over and over, putting my inner self on the page and absorbing the stronger version of myself that manifested right back in.
More than anything, writing always has been, and continues to be, the number one way I am able to express every part of myself. Whether it’s fictional stories about people I want to be or things I think are interesting, reflections about things I want to talk about but don’t know how to express verbally, or silly Facebook posts because I love to make my friends laugh, the words I write are who I am, and I’m so thankful to get to share them with all of you.