Opinion: Write about yourself

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Cameron Gorman

Talking to a friend of mine, a common college question dredged itself up from the late night Friday discussion.

“I’m not religious,” my friend told me. “So what can I pray to?”


“No, not worship. Pray to.”

Of course, even if you’re not in college, that’s a tough one. I ended up telling him what I thought about it; that you somehow have to find a way to make peace with whatever is out there, find a way to talk to yourself kindly. You almost have to be a brain figuring itself out. (You know, maaaan?)

He pondered for a moment, then replied, condensing what I’d been trying to verbalize in a much more succinct (and understandable) way.

“I’ve always felt like writing is a lot like praying.”

Yeah — I think that’s right. It is, in a way. Let me ask you something: When was the last time you sat down and really just wrote for yourself? Like you did when you were a little kid, writing in your journal? When was the last time you narrated your own waking life in this simple way:

What does it feel like to be in Union Square on Monday, June 11, 2018? A little chilly, sounds of skateboarders, some kind of gentle singing in another language over the tapping of tin drums by the street performers. My stomach is growling and I have a dollar book from the Strand next to me on a topic I barely understand.

And no, I don’t mean essays for class, though those are better than nothing. When was the last time you wrote something just for you? For no other reason than to record your own history, make room for your own record? You are your own historian, and let me tell you, social media isn’t going to tell you the whole story. I can almost guarantee the white pages in a notebook will make you feel safer to write honestly than a blinking cursor, even if it’s just so you can get it down on paper and out of your head.

And that’s really the crux of it. I’m not telling you to write about yourself in some self-important way, unless that’s what you were looking to do. I’m just telling you that you learn some surprising things when you give yourself the time and the space and the paper to record what you’re thinking. Things seem a lot different when they’re sitting on the page rather than swirling around your head or the Twittersphere, especially in a time when near everything you take the time to write is probably for others.

Sure, it can feel strange at first, especially if you haven’t done it for a while, or at all. But what do you have to lose? Find a pen and some paper; no, not a laptop. Just the basics. Find a spot where you can think. And then, just write. Doesn’t matter what it’s about, doesn’t matter if it sounds “good” to you or not. Just write. Talk about how you’re feeling, about your day, about how much you love your cat. Just write. Then, when you’re done, read it over. You just self-reflected. You just took the time to think about your own thoughts, in a time when that’s rarely something we take time to do.

And, just like learning anything, if you do it regularly for a while, you might develop a sort of rapport with yourself. A sort of line to your brain, a way for you to figure some things out. Or maybe not. Maybe it’s just time for you to remember, to reflect, to absorb the day. Either way, it’s the easiest way I know to come to peace with yourself sometimes. And, hey, look at you. You’re praying.

 Cameron Gorman is an opinion columnist. Email her at [email protected]