Identity

I used to write anywhere and everywhere. My school notebooks were filled with fantasy stories about an imaginary hero fighting dragons, love stories, journals, and more. Lots of scraps and folded papers used to fall down from my backpack as my very unhappy mother swung it in the air over and over before stuffing it in the washing machine.

Nothing stopped me from writing. When I’m sad, when I’m happy, when my heart was breaking, when I come back from a scary adventure behind my parents back. I just wrote anything and nothing, and I loved to share them! But as time passed, internal and external factors started to dampen this sporadic writing.

I cannot put my finger on an exact moment in time when I stopped being a passionate writer, and instead, started feeling ashamed of my writing. It could be a comment I read, or a rejection letter from an editor. It could be the moment I shared my writing dream with a loved one and was told it was unsafe and will leave me poor. Whatever it was, it slowly made me felt disassociated from writing despite my enormous love for it.

The idea of sophisticated writing started to plague my mind. Instead of excitedly sharing my next story to my friends, I started hiding what I wrote. I would stop myself from writing unless I had a “pre-writing plan,” a freelance project or a college essay that I cannot run from submitting. I told myself over and over that this is the best way to enhance my writing skills. To always plan and to always think before writing, despite knowing in my heart that suppressing my feelings and forcing them to sound elegant will come back and bite me.

The stress started to mount. The pressure to write perfect started emotions in me that I have never felt before towards writing. My writing was my therapy, my joy, the happy place that I ran to. But it became depressing. The pen became heavy. The page was always blank. The words that used to rush and explode in my head disappeared. It would take days to finish a single short piece.

It felt like bumping into one writing block after another. I decided to go back to writing creatively in an attempt to surpass this, but it proved futile. I almost cried. I had never felt vulnerable as I did when I decided that I could no longer associate myself with writing. I had always identified myself as a writer and to feel left out without an identity felt horrible. I felt weak and useless. As a teacher, I suddenly felt lacking. As an editor, I suddenly felt unqualified. As an artist and creator, I suddenly felt that I simply don’t belong.

It took a while to admit the mental trauma that I had created and, to be completely honest, I am still detoxing from the whole sophisticated writing crap. I had developed a fear of not writing something perfect, something effective or useful or emotional enough to click in with someone else. This fear is ridiculous to explain yet it is so true and strong. It took control of me either very strongly or weakly depending on the mental struggles I am facing that day.

However, I did take it upon myself to challenge my writing as I expose it to the world again and hear feedbacks and judgments without feeling negative or horrible, by keeping an open mind and heart. I also decided to take creative writing lessons and journalism to eliminate the whole, “I don’t have the mechanics,” excuses. A few months into this new cycle, or as I prefer to call it, my hot date with writing, I went back to writing stories again. It was not easy as my imagination had suffered quite the mental imprisonment for years; however, I was so ecstatic by the characters and the scenes when they unfolded in my mind like a wild river after a long drought.

Our mental status is a challenge in the sense that we don’t really feel its impact until physical manifestations appear, and even then, most of us won’t admit to having a mentally challenging time. Admitting this is the most important step to leading the path of recovery and starting over. Once you believe that you deserve the chance to start again and that you are worthy of help, improvement, love, and success, then this will translate into your mind to start looking for practical and useful strategies.

I will end with a quote by Charles Dickens that is dear to my heart and I hope it will pull you out whenever you feel stuck. “There is a wisdom of the head, and… there is a wisdom of the heart… It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.” 


Born on September 29th, Abrar is Saudi with strong Turkish and Algerian roots. She grew up tri-cultural and bilingual. She studied in England and America and taught in schools with various nationalities and curriculums (American, Italian, and Japanese).
She’s been a writer and a reader since the age of 5 when she played a librarian avenger in her father’s library while battling asthma attacks. Now, she’s a publishing assistant and a writer for Alf Kalimah, a freelance editor and a translator, as well as growing her crochet skills. You can find her on instagram here.

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