The online quiz--which I'm very much against--says I am "The Underdog." This makes sense. When I think about writing poetry or writing nonfiction, I crave real characters and real situations. I think about my friends and family and myself. I wonder what we've all been through and how we deserve to tell our stories in hopes of reaching out to someone. The result? Well, maybe these words help someone feel less alone. Or help someone feel less different, or maybe they help to encourage others' differences. It's tough to embark on a journey of being the underdog; it's tough being the person who very much calls out our ugly realities. But I take the risk and challenge with pride and hope to reach out to someone out there, who have been extending their hands and too often ignored in a plea for comfort.
I've had to honor my reality when it comes to writing quite often. For most of my life until college, I was able to make time for a lot of free writing; I was able to write what I wanted when I wanted and create a balance between that and life. Along came college and, making the decision to major in writing, I had to remember that writing outside of my classes was still important. Journaling was often pushed aside in order to make time for require assignments, and this simultaneously began to push a lot of my creativity aside. It wasn't until I began taking creative writing courses when I could find a balance between what I wanted to write and my reality of having to write. It's easy to say that during this time in my life, with my chosen degree, creating a balance between my reality and my writing wasn't as challenging as it would be when I took a year off between undergraduate and graduate courses.
In my gap year, I made the decision to become a more active person and lead a healthier lifestyle. For the first time, EVER, I wasn't being required to attend school, to do homework, and I wasn't really certain what I wanted to do with my life. I was only sure that I needed a year off before I decided I'd attend school again. I talk about this in my fitness blog, so I won't go into a lot of detail here--but--this turned out to be the best decision I've made thus far in life. Fighting physically and mentally with myself for 365 days, I lost 80 pounds, gained a little bit of confidence, and finally completed what I consider a long-term challenge. This, for me, was a milestone in my life because I had only ever challenged myself to a short-term degree; I wouldn't dare be up to any challenge that would take a long time to complete. But here I am, almost two years later, (!!!!!) 80 pounds lighter, (!!!!!) and still going! But, as I'm sure you could imagine, beginning anything new in life that you want to make a habit out of takes time and energy, and often sacrifices.
I pushed a lot of things to the side. Time with friends, with family, with unhealthy food, with lazy naps, with sleeping in, and writing. This was my own decision because working out and, in a sense, creating a different lifestyle for myself was something I had wanted to do for a long time. I had the time to do it, and somehow, I guess I also had the perseverance to do it! I was so exhausted by the end of most days that I wouldn't write a poem, or I'd forget to journal, or I'd cry myself to sleep because long-term challenges are no joke and, as an average human being, I just wanted to change fast, and look the way I wanted to...fast. So, as months went by, I found a balance.
At some point during my fitness journey, I started noticing results. The most important part of my journey was me noticing a change. Not a customer from work, not a friend, not family members, but me. Because I did this for myself. This is when I started writing again. I wrote about feeling like I was finally exhaling for the first time in months. And it felt so good to write something positive about myself in my own journal. Seriously. If you're reading this you should know my journals and poems aren't all optimistic and happy; I usually journal out of anger or sadness, because that's when writing saves me. But, I found a balance because I was noticing change, and I wanted to write about it, so I would never forget about it, and so I could one day look back on my journal and remember what I did. This struggle to find a balance actually created a new chapter in my writing (ha!). I found a balance by realizing that something had changed in me, both physically and mentally, and I could finally write about my accomplishment, because I had never really done that before.
I honored my reality and found that my reality would add something new to my writing. They fused and balanced each other out. I'm still always struggling to find a balance, but, I'm grateful that as a writer, I'll always be challenged in doing so.
It only took until fourth grade for me to decide that my body didn't fit into the category of beautiful. In grade school, the girls would change into their gym clothes before attending gym class. Our uniform was a pair of bloody red cotton shorts or a grey-ish pair of polyester ones, and to top it off, we wore the same gym shirt that anyone else had on.
The bloody red shorts were the only shorts that looked good on me, but I didn't figure that out until sixth grade. Until then, I couldn't understand why my uniform, both for school and for gym class, fit on me unlike the rest of the bodies in my class. I had to hike the shorts up enough to cover my beer belly. I had to have a big enough t-shirt so that any rolls weren't accounted for at first glance.
Somewhere around that Christmas in fourth grade I received a hardcover journal from my aunt. One day, my sister my mother and I returned from somewhere and my sister had tried on a nice jean skirt and a top. Home with her new purchases, I stared at my sister and wondered how we had the same genes. How effortless it was for her to put on these new clothes and have them automatically adjust to her body. She was three years older than me, but this didn't instill any hope, I never thought I could attain what most girls had.
A sadness came over me and I ran up the stairs into my closet. My closet was shaped like a isocleles right triangle. In the far right corner was a niche where I would often have the award-winning spot for hide and seek, but, on this particular night, it was the perfect niche to curl up in a ball and cry my eyes out. I grabbed the journal I had received for Christmas and I just started writing and writing.
I haven't been able to stop since and I'll tell you that not only is it because it helps me gain a clear perspective on my life, but it also functions as the most important part of my existence. There is a feeling I get when I write. It doesn't matter what I write about, but a feeling comes over me. Something that I would describe as healthy anger. I reread any piece of writing I have written and have moments of despair because I feel as I will never be able to describe exactly how I feel in my writing. That is why I keep writing. That is why I keep going, for, if that moment does indeed not exist where I feel as if I have put a feeling into the most perfect sequence of words, then I promise to live my entire life striving to get somewhere close to it.
I like to write; point blank. This is a little piece of me that I get to share with the rest of the world, and hey, you know, maybe you'll appreciate it, maybe it'll do nothing for you. But my writing exists, and that's enough for me.
© 2019 Silvia Iorio. All rights reserved.