Many people read and write as a means of escape. And I understand why they do.
I just don’t follow suit.
I started writing in a journal when I was in first grade. I don’t remember what prompted that desire. But I do remember that half the pages in my first diary were drawings. There are just some thoughts and feelings you don’t yet know how to put into words when you’re six. So I guess I drew pictures instead.
I’m journaling every day at this point. I don’t think I could survive without that habit. It’s very easy for me to get lost in a forest of frustrations and worries. I need to keep myself grounded. And that’s just one of many reasons why I write.
Writing helps me organize my thoughts, because I never stop thinking. It helps me rationalize things when my brain blows everything out of proportion. Writing is not my escape from the real world — it is how I maneuver through every passing moment. It is how I stay positive when things go wrong. It reminds me to be thankful when things continue to go right.
Writing does not whisk me away to faraway places as much as it shows me how lucky I am to be where I stand right now. I don’t believe you can ever truly escape reality, and I don’t agree that we should try. I don’t want to run from my problems. I want a different perspective on them. I want to figure out the best way to solve them. I can’t do that if I’m trying my hardest to avoid them.
I’m not saying you’re not allowed to use writing as an escape. Maybe that’s how you cope with the ins and outs of every day. But if you’re like me, and you can’t ever seem to figure anything out without writing it down first, don’t ever let yourself underestimate the power of writing as a tool to better understand your world. Writing has helped me navigate treacherous trails I never could have gotten through on my own. It has made me a more emotionally intelligent human being. It has taught me not to judge strangers. It has allowed me to be a better person than I ever could have been without it.
If for no other reason, cherish words for the sake of remembering where you’ve been, where you are now, and where you want to be. In your own words you will see the path that has taken you from the before safely into the present. And it will continue to carry you to a tangible, manageable future — if you let it.
In all this, you can know that even if no one else ever benefits from your words, at least you will. That’s something. That can keep you going on for miles without stopping.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and a nine-time NaNoWriMo winner with work published in Teen Ink, Success Story, Lifehack and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.