Getting My Voice Back

It was in my high school guidance counselor’s office that the question was raised to me: “Would you be interested in pursuing an advanced level English course?” The obvious answer to me, someone who loves to read and write and think and analyze and comprehend, was an immediate and enthusiastic “YES!” An opportunity to be challenged in a subject that had always come naturally sounded like a wonderful thing. Of course, my expectation of the course was that it would improve my skills as a writer, reader, and critical thinker.

And, in many ways, it did. I was exposed to nonfiction, which I probably never would have independently read, and gained a new skill set: the ability to critically analyze works of fact. This is something I will always be grateful for: in one sense, the course pushed me outside of my comfort zone in ways I wasn’t expecting. However, this course was not what I thought it was going to be. I worked and passionately interacted with the texts to the best of my ability. But inside me, a voice kept saying: “this is not the reason you fell in love with the English language.” 

However, it wasn’t that the texts were to blame. It was simply that there was something inside of me longing to express my creative side and talk about more profound topics rather than falling into a routine of fitting my words inside a formula and carefully forming each sentence. Our essays were timed, structured, formulaic. They were not pushing me to grow as a writer, they were pushing me to check off boxes on a list. Writing did not feel like what it had always meant to me, and I began to realize that my voice, which had always been a point of pride for me, had seemingly disappeared from my writing.

I did the work. I took practice exams. In the end, I got a 4, and my high school career went on. I loved my Creative Writing courses more than anything, and those were the classes that I felt I had a voice in. Getting to college, choosing my English major was the easiest part of the transition. But part of me was afraid that college English courses would more intensely focus on a rubric, meeting requirements and repeating someone else’s unpacking of a work in an articulate way.

Geneseo English has surprised me in all of the best ways possible. It has allowed me to find my voice, to remember that it’s okay to struggle with and grapple with things, to have a different opinion, and to ask questions that don’t have an answer yet.

Creative Writing has reminded me of who I am and what I have to say for as long as I can remember, much before I even knew it was a discipline. It will always be my passion, the thing closest to my heart and the thing that never feels like work to me. But being able to find my voice again as a literature student is something I was nervous about coming into college. I am grateful that this course was my introduction to literary studies at Geneseo, because it’s made me feel like little by little, I’m getting my voice back.

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