For a while now, I have been afraid to pick up a pen and actually use it. I’ve been reading and analyzing and musing and observing, just trying to find my own voice somewhere between the lines of my life. Because my words just haven’t what they used to be. Once upon a time, my writing made a statement – it was born of something that was more than just another attempt to please professors and recieve top marks; it came from my heart. I was convinced that I had simply lost the ability to competently compose anything more significant than an AP Euro essay. Until a few recent revalations, the issue left me in utter distress.
My high school career was spent at an elite boarding school. Although I didn’t know it at the time, I lost more than just my ability to write from the heart during those four years. Somewhere in a sea of ACT books and AP essays, I lost myself; who I was became defined by leadership positions, varsity sweaters, and test scores. Competition and perfection consumed me. As a result, my creative process suffered immensely. I was no longer able to throw caution to the wind and indulge in the art of writing. Perfection overpowered originality, and I found myself editing every damn word I wrote as though my life depended on it. This behavior quickly filtered into my everday life: before long, I was mentally editing myself in conversations and debates and everything in between. My passion was lost to an obsession with correct responses and flawless sentences.
When I began my bridge year, I was feeling more adrift than ever before. The prospect of a year in India was undoubtedly a cause for celebration – no longer was I subject to the high demands of prep school, I was free to explore the world and immerse myself in a new culture! But that didn’t stop me from nearly drowning in my newfound freedom. Upon arriving in Pune – an entirely foreign city of 5.9 million people – I was overwhlemed by the immensity of it all. The hustle and bustle made me feel insignificant, like I was nothing more than a surprisingly fair face in a sea of people. I quickly realized that I was unsure of what I was doing or why I was doing it; moreso than confidence, I was bereft of purpose. And, for the first time in my life, I found myself at a loss for words.
I spent these past months reflecting, growing, and learning to embrace the vastitude of my life in the present moment. If there’s one thing Global Citizen Year has taught me, it’s that life is not meant to be edited: it’s meant to be lived in the fullest sense of the word. Bearing that realization in mind, I gradually began to find my voice between rickshaw rides and lesson plans. The enigma, however, is that the voice I found is not entirely my own. It is comprised of the innumerable stories that surround me in every waking moment of this bridge year, from my host sister’s quirky tales to the laughter lines of yet another passerby; these stories are my passion. They inspire me.
I have found my voice, but with it I’ve come to understand that the words I write are not my own. They belong to the sea of people I encounter every day – they always have and they always will. I am here to tell the world’s story, and I endeavour to create my own in doing so.