I never thought that writing would be, like, my thing. I mean, when you’re forced to read a boring novel and compose a compare and contrast essay on the two main characters’ personality traits, writing feels more like a miserable task that eventually ends up wounded with red ink than a beneficial act of expression. It wasn’t until I started to read real books of my choice, in my interest range that I began to process the dynamism of words.

The first, real, not for Accelerated Reading points, book that I read was Twilight. And when I look back nearly five years on my 16-year-old self, I cannot help but feel humbled at the fact that I thought I was hot-stuff on top of my game, when really I had a terrible sense in fashion and very few social skills outside of my small, simple group of friends. Twilight was the book that opened my mind (embarrassing, right?) to the idea that even socially-awkward Bella could find a boyfriend. Yep, Twilight was/is hope for all the loner girls out there.

Shortly after I began the series I started seeing a kid from the neighboring town. I thought it was love, but to skip over all the  “OMG. He is so cute. He added me on Facebook.” mushy, teenage *love,* we broke up about a year later. I was really hurt, because a text message saying “when I go to college I want to see other girls” didn’t really let me down in a gentle manner. I struggled, a lot, trying to find answers for friends and family asking how I felt and suggesting that life would go on. Blah… blah… blah.

I didn’t know what to say for a really long time, so eventually I took my angst to the internet. I started a, so I thought, secret blog filled with rants toward nearly everyone in my life. I was using writing to acquit the pent-up sentiment. But I was making my personal strife toward others very, very public. I know this to be 100 percent true. My biological father came across my site. I was shocked, but I couldn’t deny it. I had made mistake, and I was ashamed. My mom didn’t lecture me, but I knew she was disappointed. Then she gave me a journal and told me to write.

I filled the lined pages of that burgundy, leather book with all my scattered thoughts. It read of one heartbreak, one summer fling, one prom date with nice arms and all my reasons to never look back. My final entry in the journal of vicissitudes was about meeting Jared. Just shy of two years later, and I have not had to use the journal. In fact, just last week, I threw it away.

I don’t need to relive the past through my words to know that I am exactly where I need to be, but the past is there for a reason. I had to hurt to find that words can and do heal. I had to fill a book, for only my eyes, of all the bad just to find the joy. My mother gave me one of the greatest gifts that day. She gave me the power to speak. Before the pages filled with ink, I could never process my emotions. I had be taught from a young age from my biological father that it’s best to not show weakness, so I had never developed the ability to speak up.

Today I can. I can explode at a co-worker for believing he could push me around because of my gender. I can tell Jared all the reasons that I really wish he would unload the dishwasher. I can write. I can write really well. I have a voice.

But now, all I want to do is thank my mom.

Thank you, Mom. You have shaped me into who I stand for. I would not be anywhere without you.