How I Became the Character of My Own Story

March 14, 2017

For some kids, reading was a chore that their parents forced them to do. For me, it was unlimited access to whole new worlds. I started reading pretty young, and as I got older my thirst for books got stronger. I remember getting in trouble in elementary school for reading books during class. (I couldn’t help it if Harry Potter was more interesting than fractions or the water cycle.) I never wanted to stop reading, and while the teachers loved that, they didn’t like my shifted focus. So I read during recess and lunch. Of course when you love books the way I do, kids will scoff at you and think you’re really weird. And even though it bothered me, I never put the book down. Unless the teacher told me to, and they did.(A lot!) But once I got into middle school, the dynamic changed. Suddenly kids were out living their lives… getting a cellphone, going to parties or hanging out at Cascade on Friday night. I went to places too, but I just had this feeling like I was missing out on something. Then middle school was over and it was time to start high school, and that feeling I had kept growing stronger and stronger until I was just frustrated and sad. It wasn't until the end of freshman year (still frustrated and sad) that I realized what my problem was. Everyone around me was the main character of their story, while I had become a side character in my own life.

Not that side characters are bad, but sometimes they become irrelevant and forgotten. When you're a main character, you have control over your life. You have problems, but you eventually overcome them. You have journeys that open new worlds. Sometimes you even get a decent love interest. That's what I wanted. A life is like a story or a book. After all, a person’s life has origins, a plot, and an epilogue. Depending on who the person was, the story is good or bad. So what was my story? I already knew where I came from...but where I was headed? No clue. Did I have obstacles? Yeah, but most people do. Did I know the main character (myself)? No, I didn't. Nobody wants a book filled with obstacles, a non-existent storyline, and a character who can't figure herself out. Which means I shouldn't be living my life like that. Now that I had figured out what my problems were, I focused on the biggest problem there Who am I? If I couldn't at least figure this part out, then I would have no story. So I thought about it. I wrote down my best and worst qualities, interesting facts about me, etc. All I came up with was the same things I already knew. I needed more: a defining moment, a long-lost hope, an adventure I never suspected. I tried so hard to find this stuff, to create it, but all it did was leave me with agitation and a fear that I could never be the main character of my story.

So now it's my sophomore year, and as I was about to give up and be content with being a side character, an email from TeenInk pops up in my inbox. It had told me that one of my articles, My Cultural Storyline was editor picked. That information sent me over the moon and I started to dance. Then it hit me: At the bottom of the email, it had said I joined a special group of writers. Writers. Writer. I knew what it meant to be a writer, but I didn't think I had it. Anyone can pick up a pencil and write. To be a writer, is something completely different. Still I shared the news with friends, family, and my English teacher. She was proud of me and talked me into a writing competition over at a local college. So I wrote a fantasy story called The Raelighia Chronicles. I finished Part 1 and I submitted it. (I still haven't heard back.) I now realize that day with the email, was my defining moment. That moment when I knew that I could be a writer. Fast forward 5 months to now, I still don't know who I am, at least not all of it. Here is what I do know. I’m a quirky, passionate, witty teenage girl. I care about everybody regardless of who they are. I want have to an impact on the world. I want to be able to tell people I write for a living. I want to travel the world. It may not seem like much right now, but when I look at it objectively my story is about a girl trying to find herself through the power of writing. It’s messy and complicated, filled with trials and self-doubt, and the best part: I don’t know how it ends because I’m not finished. Now I don’t know about you, but that sounds like an interesting read to me.

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