In the spirit of International Women’s day, I’ve decided to take a sentimental stroll down memory lane today. Let me tell you the story of the teacher who made me a writer and changed my life.
So Back in High School….
Let me give you an mental image of the kind of kid I was in school. An average B student. Definitely not one of the cool girls. I was awkward and lanky and a total mess. And I had no idea what I would do with the rest of my life.
In Freshman year, I wrote my first fictional story and discovered I actually liked writing. English was my favorite subject. Here was the problem. In my personal life, there was no one to encourage me to pursue my talent, nor acknowledgement that I even had a talent.
Until I Met this Teacher
For now, let’s call her Miss J. She was my English teacher in both my Freshman year and my Senior year. And she saw the potential in me that I didn’t even know existed.
Miss J was a kind and lovely person. She introduced me to literature that initially inspired me to write. Works like ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’, ‘Of Mice and Men’ And Greek Mythology. The first story I ever wrote was probably in her class.
Speaking of Mythology, towards the end of Freshman year, my high school wanted to remove Greek Mythology from the curriculum and planned on throw away a bunch of books away. The horror. Before they were tossed in the garbage, she gave me one of those books. Torn and tattered, it will always remain on my bookshelf.
Struggles with Self Esteem
This one time, we were assigned to write a scene inspired by Hamlet, the play we were reading at the time. I was so excited that I worked extra hard on this two page script. Even researched authentic Shakespearean language. After I handed it in, my teacher was genuinely impressed and asked if she could read it to the whole class. I told her ‘no’.
And even today, I still regret that decision. See, my confidence was under the floorboards at the time. I was incredibly self conscious, and felt like I was rubbing my great story in everyone’s face, and then everyone would hate me. “No, no, it isn’t that great. Surely, my work isn’t the best in the class.”
Man, some days, I wish I had a time machine and could tell my younger self to not be afraid of showing my talent. That being awesome at something won’t belittle others. And honestly, I still struggle a little with that low self esteem logic today.
Words of Encouragement
In my Senior year, Miss J asked us to write journal entries, which she would read. I was still nervous about others reading my writing. To break from that fear, I decided to just be funny. My journal was filled with my (embarrassing) humorous observations, kind of like what you see on the blog today. And she loved them.
So, I kept writing. She said I had a natural talent as a writer and that I had a quirky voice. Thank goodness for that quirkiness. I was amazed and humbled and happy. My silly scribbles made someone laugh. Nothing was more fulfilling. Miss J wrote me these encouraging notes, pushing me to pursue a career as a writer. I still have those notes. The most touching note from her is scrawled in my yearbook, hoping that the next time she hears my name, it’s because I’d have won the Pulitzer prize. (Insert tears here.)
To a wonderful teacher, I’d like to say thank you, from the bottom of my heart. I don’t know where I’d be right now if it wasn’t for your encouragement. You inspired me to pursue creative writing and made me the writer I am today. And you also inspired me to start this blog, where my quirkiness has room to roam and where I can encourage other writers to write their story.
[This is a repost, but an important post, nonetheless.]
Write with Heart,