Do you ever feel like you’ve lost your voice? I don’t mean that you have a cold or that you were screaming too loud at a concert the night before. I mean you are struggling to remember who you are, why you’re here, what your purpose is…
Yeah… um, me neither…
Who am I kidding? Of course I’ve felt that way! Probably more often than I’d like to admit!
It always hits me really hard when I remember that life is a process. Everything about it. Waking up and showering and getting ready every day to go to work – it’s a process. Learning about someone and falling in love with the person and getting your heart broken – it’s a process. Not liking yourself and figuring out that it’s only pushing people away and crawling back from that darkness – it’s all a process. And sometimes the process sucks! And other times the process helps in ways you hadn’t anticipated.
Recently something happened in my life, which is too long to actually describe here, but suffice it to say I finally came to terms with the fact that I have a pretty severe case of anxiety. In order to channel all of that emotion and negativity that anxiety births, I found journaling again.
One of my very favorite sounds in the whole world is the sound a journal makes when you crack it open for the very first time. I don’t know why, but it fills my body with excitement. Is it the promise of filling the pages with heartfelt words about life, love, and the pursuit of happiness? Maybe it’s the idea that no one else will ever read those words, so I know I can say whatever the hell I want? Or maybe it’s the smell of paper that has never touched anyone else’s hands? Whatever it is, I cannot get over the thrill of walking around a store, finding a perfect journal, taking it home, hearing that sound when I open it, and starting to write on its pages.
Over the years, though, I lost touch with journaling. It stopped being something that calmed me and, for some reason, started being this weird burden. I cannot pinpoint why exactly, but I feel like it had something to do with me losing touch with who I was as a person and as a writer.
I don’t know why or when or how, but I wandered into a bookstore one day and journeyed the stacks until I found the journal section. It was as if a siren was calling me. It was strange. I looked through them all and found myself particularly drawn to a bright yellow one with dotted paper and let me just tell you, the sound when I cracked that bad boy open was like coming home after not even realizing I was gone.
I started to write almost instantly. I sat down right in the store (after I purchased it, of course – I’m not a complete barbarian) and wrote and wrote and wrote. I couldn’t get the words out fast enough. I wrote about my feelings, my life, what I was going through, why it didn’t make sense, why I couldn’t find a way to get my head around what was happening… And it started to all make sense again.
Don’t get me wrong. Even after all of that writing, I still had no idea why I was feeling those feelings or why it was all happening… But knowing that I was at least acknowledging it made me feel so much better. Putting my feelings down on paper always helped. When I was growing up, or hell, even as an adult, if I wanted to talk to someone about something that meant a lot to me, I would always reach for a pad of paper, a pen, and I’d pour my heart onto the college ruled notebook paper, scribble out the mistakes, nibble on the end of the pen, read and reread what I wrote, and ultimately feel better. There was something about explaining myself with written words that grounded me.
After talking about journaling with a friend, she said to me, “I think you should try writing poetry.”
I laughed at her. Why? Why wasn’t writing in my journal enough? Even though I felt like my entries said the same thing over and over and over again.
“Try it out. You never know. It could be like journaling,” she said.
I told her that I had no idea how to write poetry. “Do I have to write in iambic pentameter?”
She laughed and laughed, then said, “It’s words and feelings… and we all know you have a lot of both.”
So, I did what she suggested and tried my hand at writing poetry. And I actually really enjoy it! I never thought I would say that, though. When I thought about poetry, I would think about iambic pentameter and rhyming words on alternating sentences and the way poetry was always so hard to read out loud in school in front of classmates. But as I wrote in my journal, I realized my heart and soul had so much more to say than the same entry over and over again about “why can’t I just figure myself out?”
My point to all of this is if you’re struggling or not sure how to channel anxiety or stress or depression or whatever, find something that you can pour your heart and soul into or onto. I guarantee harnessing that creativity will help you heal. I know it has helped me.
Erin Zak grew up on the Western Slope of Colorado in a town with a population of 2,500, a solitary Subway, and one stoplight. She started writing at a young age and has always had a very active imagination. Erin later transplanted to Indiana where she attended college, started writing a book, and had dreams of one day actually finding the courage to try to get it published.
Erin now resides in Florida, away from the snow and cold, near the Gulf Coast with her family. She enjoys the sun, sand, writing, and spoiling her cocker spaniel, Hanna. When she’s not writing, she’s obsessively collecting Star Wars memorabilia, planning the next trip to Disney World, or whipping up something delicious to eat in the kitchen.