The moment I decided to start a blog, I am immediately consumed with concern about what to write. I have a number of ideas swirling around my head but the pressure to decide on what to write overwhelms my brain and I fall into the trap of overanalyzing which paralyzes me from making a decision. I have been on that state for months before the new year (2019) started. Until finally, to put a stop to the chaos in my mind, I asked an outsider for advice. I told a very close friend about my desire to start a blog, my insecurities about my writing, my being unable to decide on what to write about, and the nuances that hold me back from doing it. And like most trusted confidants do, my friend asked me clarifying questions without zeroing out on a specific answer. Isn’t it just great? But really, that’s what I like about my friends, they rarely sugarcoat things to pet my ego. Then she finally suggested that I write about ‘why I write’ because most people start like that.
That struck a chord in my brain. I don’t know what to do and how to start and so it makes sense that I ask myself why I wanted to do it in the first place. Like every desire I’ve experienced in life, this urge to write must be put to an existential test. Really, why do I write?
Before I answer this question, let me first tell you a little bit about my back story.
As a child, I was a recipient of a sponsorship program from a humanitarian organization. I started writing in the 3rd grade when I was about 9 or 10 years old since sponsored children are asked to write letters of gratitude to their sponsors. My sponsor was a big-hearted Japanese woman. I have never met her but I’ve always imagined her as a kind-looking lady in a kimono printed with cherry blossoms. We usually write our sponsors at the start of the year, the start of the school year, during our birthdays, and during the holidays. The organization provides a common theme for the letters and encourage the kids to write them on their own while their parents assist them.
My Mom was a firm believer in ‘learning by experience’. As a 3rd grader, I’ve only just started learning to compose my own sentences. For the 3rd grader me, writing is difficult. I wouldn’t know what to write about and I would always write things at random in our native language without care about composing my thoughts. Sometimes I would throw tantrums because writing is such a pain. My Mom would sit down with me and will never leave the table until I finished at least 2 paragraphs. It has always been an ordeal for my 3rd grader self but I had to finish writing before I am allowed to watch my favorite anime on TV. Once I finish, my Mom would ask me clarifying questions about my narrative, make corrections, and translate them to English. Once the draft was finished, the organization give kids some special sheets of thick, smooth, and nicely lined papers so we could hand-rewrite our letter. I didn’t like my penmanship very much back then but I’ve always liked writing on quality paper.
As I advance in school, I was ‘forced to write’ more reports and narratives. It was time-consuming but I never hated it. I liked reading and enriching my vocabulary and so I came to love having to compose sentences using my newly discovered words even though they didn’t always quite fit. I felt like I sounded smart if I use jargon (a douche in the making LOL). I started journaling, writing book reviews, and essays. I never cared if my writing was good as long as I observe correct grammar. But I don’t always get things right so I was not confident to show my work to others. I felt like outside of school and work and other compulsory activities, my writing was only for my own consumption. Writing was my way to express myself. Although back then I didn’t feel the need to show myself to so many people.
At some point during college, I stopped writing creatively altogether. Yes, I continued to write reports and narratives for school, but since I am in a science program, I had to drop any literary flavor in my writing. My writing had to be direct, concise, and ‘sciencey’. There was no room for creativity. I would describe the results of my experiments as observed – nothing more, nothing less. Inferences were factual, rational, and objective, there was no room for emotions and opinions. Inferences must be backed by data and supported by solid and recognized proof.
It was only until now when my graduate studies led me to the field of social sciences that I rediscover my passion for writing. I thought that there are so many things to write about, so many issues to tackle and that I have so many ideas I simply cannot contain. I am still not confident about my writing. In fact, I have learned how obnoxious I had been as I keep ideas to myself and feed my ego with that false sense of superiority, thinking that I have great ideas that are reserved only for me and the people I choose. Until a junior colleague at work brought me back to my senses. She was encouraging me to write just because. She said that I should not think too much about how people would accept what I put out there and fall into overly analyzing every f**ing s**t that makes me end up not writing at all. That I should just keep things simple. ‘Ilahad mo lang‘ (just present it), she said. Hearing it in my native Filipino language was striking, it had a more profound meaning and a nice poetic ring. I knew then that I had to shed off that bloated sense of self and humbly accept that I needed to write.
I write because I need to. Writing gives me this sense of peace. Writing with my pen on a piece of paper, a napkin, my journal, or a sticky note calms me. Picking words in my head and writing or typing them down while making sense of them clears my thoughts and keeps me from obsessively overthinking things to no end. Putting words out there keeps me sane. I am not out to impress or advocate or inspire. I write because for me it is part of self-care. It has been two decades since I learned to write. And I still write for me. That has not changed. Doing otherwise would be self-repression. For me, thinking about writing more than a form of self-expression is vanity. ‘Nais ko lang ilahad‘ (I just want to present it). And so here I write.
At ilalahad ko ng walang takot at pagaatubili sa mga darating pang panahon.