A&E / Archive

A Letter to My Inner Artist: A letter to my childhood self.

Dear Inner Artist,

It feels strange to have you back after you seem to have been gone for a while. Even as you’ve been enjoying the process of writing more poetry in one semester than you have in a while, it still doesn’t feel like you’re back in your entirety.

I know the reality is that you’ve never left. You’ve always been with me. But I look back to the days when you would spend hours excited after dreaming about a new story, breaking out your crayons and construction paper, sprawling out on the floor and writing for hours, decorating your words with doodles and stickers, borrowing Mom’s stapler off the desk, and showing off your newly finished book with pride, and I can’t help but feel like that liveliness, that joy, isn’t as strong anymore.

Perhaps it comes with growing up. Throughout my childhood, adults warned me that my imagination would slip away, and I had always stuck out my chin, straightened my back, and thought, No, that won’t happen to me! You’re still here, so my imagination hasn’t slipped away entirely, but I am saddened to think that, to an extent, they were right.

Looking back, I can pin the point where you began to fade slowly: my sophomore year of high school. My schedule got busier. There was more pressure put on me for grades because college was getting nearer and nearer. I had pushed you away to study and sleep and socialize. It was me who began to rely on you less and less. Your absence was not your fault.

But then came college, and you must have recognized my newfound amount of freedom. I guess you took to heart the advice everyone around you was giving you
before graduation, that college is a time of exploration and self-discovery. You were the voice in my head encouraging me to take a creative writing class my first
semester. We haven’t written for fun in so long. How great would it be to try it again? Little did I know that decision would bring me more joy and confidence than I had felt in the few years prior.

As time went on, slowly but surely, you made your presence stronger. So strong, in fact, that you pushed aside any and all logic and dismantled all of the plans I had for my future in one fell swoop. It was your turn to make your vision come to life, the vision you’ve been harboring since you learned what stories were, since you absorbed the lesson on poetry in fourth grade with wide eyes and open ears, since you came home from school every day and raced upstairs to fill up notebook after notebook with drawings, nonsense rhymes, and characters based off of your favorite dolls.

I wouldn’t be where I am today without you. Though I don’t think you will ever be as powerful as you were when I was a kid, I am eternally grateful that you have stuck around, and I can rest easy knowing that you won’t ever leave me for good.

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