By Jerry Z.
“One hour left!”
These three words knocked me back to reality with a jarring impact. I stared at my blank document and it stared right back. With my mind racing and heart pounding, I thought back about what had gotten me into this horrible situation…
I used to love writing. It was amazing: putting words on paper at first, letting your feelings slowly shape them, and turning it into a beautiful masterpiece. I was even good at it. I had gone to many competitions (mainly UIL, a competition/organization that offered competitions for students), and I had even won some of them. I speak in the past tense because, as sad as it may seem, that was the past. Now, I don’t love writing as much. It fell out of practice, and my love for it fell out as well.
However, after a few years, this long-forgotten skill was pulled out of the deep, dark pits of my mind by none other than my mother. Through her WeChat groups and other connections, she came upon an organization called Eyre Writing Center and told me about it.
“Hey Jerry, I heard of this new EWC and they offer writing classes. You’ve gone long enough without writing, and you really need to develop this skill for when you apply for colleges and other things,” said my mom.
“I don’t think I want to… I’m too lazy, ” I whined.
“How about this, sit through the open house seminars and see if you like it. I’ll also print out some of the placement tests to see which classes you should get into,” suggested my mom.
I reluctantly agreed. After all, who am I to object to my mom? So, I decided to sit through the seminars. Mrs. Chen, the director of EWC, was extremely passionate about her writing center. She was very enthusiastic, but also very focused. She explained EWC’s mission, teaching style, schedule, and classes. She was extremely thorough and didn't leave anything unexplained. My mom asked me what I thought about the teacher and the class. I replied that Mrs. Chen was extremely passionate and enthusiastic and that the covered material in the classes was pretty good as well. I hadn’t made a complete decision on whether or not to sign up for the class, so my mom just went ahead and did it for me; she signed me up for the class straight away. Somehow the “the class is good” translates to “sign me up for the class.” I wasn’t against it, but even if I had been, my mom would’ve probably signed me up for the class anyway.
A couple of weeks later, our first class was in session. I was a bit on edge, but Mrs. Chen quickly diffused the tension. As the classes went on, we began to get to know each other more. Weeks passed in a flash, and before I knew it, it was time for the assignment I had been dreading this whole semester, the personal narrative. I stressed over it for the whole week. When the day for writing the essay finally came, my heart was beating at a mile a minute. My face felt hot, and my palms were sweaty. My legs were shaking and my hands were trembling.
Now, I know what you’re probably thinking. “Jerry, why are you so stressed over a single essay? It really isn’t that bad.” Yeah, you’re right. It was pretty stupid. But you have to realize, I was extremely self-conscious. I always worried about what others thought of me and the things I did. The competitions I had previously won definitely did not help either. Because of them, I was not only worried about others, but I was also worried about hurting my pride. And as you can probably tell, it definitely did not help my situation one bit. When it was time to start writing the essay, my heart was pounding. I was not ready. When the timer started, I began to freak out. I was having a total mental breakdown. My three brain cells were fighting over what to write about.
“Write about math!” one yelled.
“No! That topic sucks! Write about games or something!” screamed the other.
“NO! Both your topics suck! Write about… something more meaningful… like… I don’t know!” shrieked the third.
My mind slowly descended into chaos as all order fell apart. My three brain cells screamed and yelled and hollered. I massaged my temples in an effort to calm myself down. Then it hit me. I knew why this was happening. It was my self-doubt. It was the main cause of all this. When I had thought about everyone’s opinions, I had lost sight of my own. I was so focused on what everyone else wanted that I had even lost control of my head. I had to stop thinking about others to think for myself. I pondered this realization for a while. The essay that I am going to write may not be good. It may be so horrible that I become unable to pick up a pen in fear of myself writing another essay like this one. But it didn’t matter. If writing is something I enjoy, then what right does anyone else have to ruin it for me? Pulling myself back to the present, the answer seemed obvious. I had less than an hour left, and the essay was never going to write itself. With the problem settled, I began to write.