I recently began writing poems again, and it was a childhood dream of mine to become a published author and writer. As I’ve reconnected with this long-lost passion of mine, I reflect on what it has meant for me to rediscover parts of myself I thought were gone for good. Keep reading to learn what this process has taught me and why I think it’s important to reconnect with our dreams.
I don’t know what it is about the holiday season, but it always reminds me of childhood. Maybe because the holiday season was so magical to us as kids, so as adults we give ourselves permission during this time of year to once again rediscover our childlike wonder. I would argue that we spend most of our adult lives trying to tap back into that sense of wonder and imagination, trying to remember some of what was lost as we started paying cell phone bills and making appointments at the chiropractor and learning how to do our taxes.
I’ve been thinking a lot about childhood lately – not just because it’s the holiday season, but because I’ve recently allowed myself to reawaken a childhood dream I’d long given up on, thanks to the help of a conversation with one of my closest friends. Both she and I are on a newfound quest to live more creative and vulnerable lives, so we naturally began discussing our childhood passions and dreams — the activities that lit us up completely when we were young.
The importance of childhood creativity
We both believe that there’s something very telling in what creative art forms we grativated to as children – whether that be writing, drawing, singing, acting, playing music…think for a moment about what creative just-for-fun activity you loved as a child. For my friend it was singing. For my fiancé it was playing music and writing songs. For me it was writing. Always writing.
I loved all types of writing, but I especially loved creative writing. I never really attempted to write a novel, but I wrote some short stories. Mostly, I loved writing poems. There was something about poems to me that were so beautiful and poignant. They captivated me in ways other art forms couldn’t. I loved how I felt writing them – like I was communicating with a higher power. And I loved how poems could get such powerful messages across to the reader in just a few short words.
From creativity to comparison and self-doubt
Poems are small and mighty, in the same way I always imagined myself to be. They were truly reflections of my soul. But somewhere along the way, I buried the joy I once found in writing poems under responsibility. Adulthood. The fear of not being good enough. Comparison. Self-doubt. The usual suspects.
The last time I wrote a poem was five years ago, the summer before my senior year of college. I was in Paris for a month-long poetry writing class (how lucky was I, right?!). I was with twelve other amazing poets who had been submitting to poetry journals and furiously working on their craft. They were so talented, and their poems brought me to tears.
But I quickly began to shrink in comparison. I remember how it would get more and more difficult for me to even write poems because I was so terrified that they wouldn’t measure up. I felt like I had nothing to write about. Nothing to say. I would then hear everyone else’s poems in class and continue to shrink further into myself and tell myself that this just wasn’t for me – this wasn’t a talent of mine like I thought it once had been. I believed in this so much that I never again wrote a poem after that class.
Rediscovering my creative dreams
Until earlier this month, when I took a deep breath, picked up a pen, and wrote. All because my friend and I had been talking about childhood passions, and I was telling her about how much I loved writing as a child. I told her that I was so happy I started this blog, because it was filling that void I’ve felt since I stopped writing. And she looked me straight in the eye and said, “But it sounds like what you really want to do is creative writing.”
I stopped in my tracks. My face got hot. I could feel myself physically recoiling. I wanted to change the subject. I wanted to scream, “No – that’s NOT what I want! I’m perfectly happy, THANK YOU!!!” But she was right. “Well, I used to really love writing poems,” I said timidly. And I knew I had to examine why I was having such a strong reaction to what she was saying – probably because she hit on a truth by body knew but my mind was ignoring. (We all know that feeling, I’m sure. And it sucks!)
It’s never too late to rediscover your gifts
So that’s how it happened. I sat with what she said, processed it, and the next day I thought, What the hell. Let’s see what I’ve got. I picked up a notebook and began to write. I wrote 20 poems that day. And more the next day. And the next. It was like they had been patiently sitting inside me, waiting for me to let them free. They were always there. And they always will be there, I know now – whenever I want to return to them.
So, my friends, what are you holding yourself back from? What did you used to love creating that you told yourself you’re not good at? That you told yourself other people were already doing, and doing better than you ever could? That you told yourself you can’t make a living from that, so why try?
Well, guess what – I still have a day job, too. I wrote some poems – it doesn’t mean I’m going to become a full-time poet right now, and that’s completely fine. I may never become that. But writing poems brings me such joy – joy and fulfilment unlike anything I’ve felt in years. I feel like I’m living out my true purpose. Your joy and passion doesn’t have to make you money – you can just do it because it feeds a part of your soul that you had long forgotten existed.
So, again, I challenge you to think back to whatever creative endeavor you loved as a child, before the world filled your head with comparison and doubt, with anxiety and fear, with obligation and responsibility. What did you love to do, just for fun? (Perish the thought!) Take some time out of your week or even your month, even if it’s for one hour, to do that thing. And do it NOW. Start TODAY. No more excuses. Schedule it on your calendar if you need to. Turn off your phone. Dive in, and see what unfolds. You just may surprise yourself with what you find.