by Cathy Yan, Junior Editor for Creative Non-fiction
It is not at all controversial to say adolescence is one of the most difficult periods of anyone’s life. For me, the growing pains were exacerbated by having to constantly switch schools and deal with the resulting isolation caused by a combination of internalized anger, self-pity and social awkwardness.
To make my life somewhat less of a barren, monotonous landscape devoid of the affection of my peers, I began to write profusely as a method of escape. It began with a few messily scrawled short stories in a journal, but quickly escalated to typed pieces thousands of words long all starring the girl I wished I was: beautiful, but uniquely so; talented, but modest; fierce, but ends up confiding in a trusted friend to show her vulnerable side; and quick-thinking with enviable wit. There were assassins and princesses, unpopular high school nerds and cheerleading captains. Each character was a piece of the person I thought I should be.
Looking back now, four years down the line, I finally begin to appreciate just what writing has done for me. At first glance, my work seems to reflect the unhealthy and insecure self-perception of just another girl striving for unattainable perfection. Upon closer reflection, however, the true meaning (one that my younger self never saw even as she was frantically typing away) begins to make itself clear.
The truth is the girls I was writing about were all the same person: a pumped-up, shiny, exaggerated version of me doused in vanilla lip-gloss and glowing under the attention of all of her friends and suitors. It was never truly my desire for belonging and conformity that I had expressed through my writing, it was the yearning for another life to live, a way to redo my past mistakes and write myself a better future. All along, all I had craved was to experience life over and over again, each time in a different role like I was a shape shifter stuck in a perpetual time loop.
In the end, writing out my life subconsciously may not have given me a batch of cookie-cutter popular best friends or an unnaturally handsome guy to display on my arm like a Chanel handbag, but it gave me a method of venting, of escaping from my mundane world into one filled with adventure. Through developing my glimmering, perfect literary twin, I was inspired to follow in her footsteps, to gain her courage and determination, and to get out into the real world and seek what I want out of life.
Although writing may not necessarily have given me what I had wanted at the time, it gave me exactly what I needed: the opportunity to choose my own path to live over and over again.
Senior Editor’s Note: Do you have a literary twin of your own making? Tell us about it. Submit a piece of your own creative non-fiction to jaBlog! If we publish it, you will earn $5 to spend in the LTC store. If we don’t accept it this time around, we will tell you why.