Does your mind ever send you a blinking *empty* signal when you’re trying to write? Ugh, the struggles of writer’s block. I’m thankful that it doesn’t happen to me on a regular basis, but when it does, look out. Writer’s block is frustrating, not only because it massively decreases productivity in what are often crunch time situations, but also because – for me at least – it makes me feel like I can’t accomplish one of the few things I know how to do for sure.
In my junior year of high school, I participated in a photojournalism internship that changed my path. First of all, I realized that I wasn’t interested in pursuing photojournalism as a career. More importantly, though, one of the photographers that I interned with randomly took me over to her friend’s house down the street. It turns out that her friend was also a graduate of my high school, and as we ate an outdoor lunch on a beautiful summer day in late June, she taught me an important lesson: be confident in your abilities. Though ‘be confident in yourself’ is a message often snuck into YA books and elementary school lesson plans, high school had squashed the importance of this message, of believing in myself. The lesson arose out of a question: are you a good tennis player? My reply was a hesitant, “I guess so,” not wanting to show off or sound anything less than humble. In response, she asked me how long I’ve been playing tennis and whether or not I’ve played on a team. I told her how I’ve been playing tennis since the age of four and how I was, at the time, about to enter my second year as the co-captain of the varsity tennis team – with exercise-induced asthma. She looked at me, shocked, and I wondered what I might have said to put such a drastic look on my new acquaintance’s face.
The patio fell silent, and all I could hear was the ever-dramatic crunch of celery in hummus.
Her look of shock finally turned into a smile as she told me about how important it is for young people like me to learn that it’s alright to say we’re good at something, even great. It isn’t that I’m being pompous or annoying, but that I have confidence in myself and the abilities and goals I’ve worked so hard to achieve. (Still working on this, but it’s an important lesson, nonetheless.)
So, when I get a case of serious writer’s block, it feels like someone pulled the rug out from under my confidence, forcing me to rebuild my abilities – and belief in myself – once again.