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Four Years at the Mount

Sophomore year

An answer

Leeanne Leary
Class of 2017

(8/2014) When asked why I do the things I do, an easy response is often, "Because I like to" or, "Because it is fun." These answers may suffice, if they are only questions asked in small talk or a casual conversation, but the truth is, I donít actually know why I do most of the things I do.

I go to work because I need to work for money. I go to school because itís what is expected of me. I run because Iím in training. I go to PT in the mornings because itís required. I read because I have always read. I write because Iíve always liked to write.

These are easy answers, answers that require no thought and donít exactly exude a lot of emotion or passion. With answers like that, Iím realizing it looks like I donít enjoy my life very much, but I do. So now I need to articulate better answers, answers that will show my passion and love for what Iím doing, show why it makes me happy, and show others what is so great about it. So today, I will focus on why I write.

10 years ago, my 9-year-old self would have responded:

I like to write because I hate math. Really, math is no good. I know we need it to function and live and whatnot, but it just seems too restricted and I donít have any room for creativity.

Then I would have gone to middle school and my 12-year-old self would say:

I really like my English teacher Mrs. Doria, so that is why I like to write. Today, she let me write a story about why I love bacon as long as I used all my vocab words.

High school came next and I would have said:

Well I thought I liked to write, but these summer assignments didnít get done until the day before the deadline, so maybe itís not that fun.

So youíre getting the point. I went through years of not really having a reason to write, but just knowing I liked it better than other subjects. I didnít journal or do anything outside of my required schoolwork; I simply noticed a significant difference in stress level between doing a math problem and writing an English essay. I didnít start to love to write until after I realized how important it is.

This realization happened slowly and several different times before it stuck. The process began sophomore year of high school when I joined the yearbook staff. It was there that I fell in love with journalistic writing. I was never the best because I wasnít the most creative, but I loved the way that I could capture things in my copies that I couldnít in my photographs. I could take a stunning picture of a touchdown on a Friday night, but I couldnít at the same time capture the sound of the coachís scream, or the emotion because that touchdown had just made the team district champions. I couldnít show the tears in the fatherís eyes as he watched his son win the game or the excitement from the student section. The only way I could put all of this into one spot and one memory was in writing, so thatís what I did. I started to write down smells, sounds, and emotions to go along with all of the pictures I took. I started to realize that when people see these photos they want to know the story behind them. So this was my gateway into writingóyearbook copies and photo captions. So my 17-year-old self would have said I write to capture and preserve memories.

So my love for journalistic writing was born, and it grew as I grew into the yearbook world and continued after I left. Last month I went on a mission trip to Haiti and had the best week of my life, but I was afraid I was going to forget things. I knew I wouldnít forget the sights or the love or anything major, but I was afraid to forget the orphansí names, ages, what they liked to do, which kids warmed up to me on which days and which ones didnít like crafts but only wanted to play outside. So for the first time, I took the advice of my team leaders and I wrote in a journal. I hadnít put my feelings down in a journal before, mainly because I donít often read my own writing, so a journal seemed kind of silly. But it wasnít silly, it was exactly what I needed to keep all of these memories in one place. And here, just last month, I fell in love with the way I can write whatever I want down to remember exactly how I felt in each moment. So in this way, I write to capture and to remember.

Discovering this side of writing was certainly incredible, but as an English Literature major, my passion for analytical writing is what drives all forms of creativity. Although it may not be the most creative of all writing, it is my foundation for my work. Having an English teacher as a mother, I always said I liked the subject, and also always said I wanted to be an English teacher, but it wasnít until 11th grade that I fell in love with this sort of writing. My English Language and Composition teacher tortured us from the beginning of the year with constant writing assignments and analytical tasks that she promised "would feel easier soon." I didnít believe her, but soon those four-hour assignments began to only take three hours, then two, and by the end of the year I was doing them in 20 minutes. Over this time where I was improving without realizing it, I began to love the way that I could read this text and have a thousand ideas running through my head, and I could somehow make sense of them by simply writing them down. I realized that what had been torturous months ago, I now got excited about doing. I actually looked forward to doing homework for the first time in my life. It was then that I fell in love with the way that I could finally make sense of things through writing.

Now I know if somebody asks me why I do anything I can probably come up with better answers with a little thought. I donít just work because I need money; I work because I enjoy being productive and love my co-workers. I donít just go to school because I should; I go because I really love to learn and I want to better myself. I run because itís freeing, I go to PT because itís motivating and the other cadets are amazing people, I read to enter another universe and I write for so many reasons. I still probably wonít have the best answer as to why I write unless anyone wants to hear me talk for two hoursówhich nobody doesóbut at least now I have an answer myself. Well, I have several answers. Although my younger self didnít know why I wrote, I write to capture memories, my own and those of other people. I write to remember details that would never stick in my head otherwise. I write to make sense of things, all things from texts and passages to life problems. I write because it doesnít matter if Iím good at it, if I have the best structure or the best word choice. It doesnít matter if I canít figure out where to start or where to end, because itís all mine Ė my memories, my thoughts, my view on the world.

Read other articles by Leeanne Leary