Who are you? What defines you as a person? What do you want to do with your life? Why do you write? All of these questions, as I’m sure you agree, are extremely loaded. I can not describe the frustrating relationship that I’ve had struggling with each and every single one of these questions, however most recently, we’ve all been asked our to describe our reasoning and motivation behind why we choose to write. This essay was challenging for me to begin because, in all honestly, I could have taken so many different approaches. It is impossible to pinpoint one or two distinct reasons why I choose to write; it is rather a combination of hundreds of different reasons: stress, expression, passion, ability, power, influence, desire, change, drive, because I have to etc. Although it is creatively important to identify what exactly causes one’s desire to write, I find it hard to fit these reasons into a 1200 word essay.

I competitively swam throughout my entire childhood. In a typical day, I would wake up at 4:45am, work out, go to school, work out from 3:00pm-6:00pm, do homework, and go to bed. Repeat. Although I realize this does not seem remotely appealing to the vast majority of people, I have to say that swimming was the one thing that got me through the most. The awkward middle school years, the drama of high school, fighting with a boyfriend, friend or parent, and a variety personal challenges. In my essay, I describe what swimming is to me. How it made me feel. It was the only time in a day that I didn’t have to to do anything I didn’t want to do, didn’t have to obey the rules of society, and didn’t have to listen to anyone but myself and my own thoughts. You can’t hear anything underwater, it’s the perfect escape. As I applied to colleges, I received scholarships all around the state to continue swimming, but school has always been my number one priority, (not to mention my entire family is obsessed with UofM, go blue!) thus I decided to attend the University of Michigan, which ultimately meant I had to give up swimming competitively. In the past year and a half, I have come to realize the immense impact swimming had on my life, both physically and mentally. However, towards the beginning of winter semester last year, I developed a strong love/hate relationship with writing, which was a huge step up from the hate/hate relationship I had previously. Writing, it seemed, had filled the gap that swimming had once occupied. As with swimming, writing is the only place I can escape reality; the only place where it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. I can’t say that writing is as refreshing as diving into the pool at 5:00am, but as I mature as a student, it has made itself an acceptable substitute.

Why do I think this piece is so hard?  Because it’s personal. It’s raw. And in all honesty, it’s pretty scary. It’s scary to see how much we grow up, how much we drift away from things we were once so passionate about. But at the same time, it’s incredible. It’s incredible to watch the journey within ourselves from point “A” to point “B”, and how we come to love things that we never did in the past. So yes, this piece is challenging, but overcoming writer’s block is what it means to be a successful writer! Good luck on your essays everyone!

2 thoughts to “Realizations”

  1. I think it’s something about the brutal pain of sports, but I understand when you say there is a void in your life without swimming. Although I am a soccer guy myself, and the hours are much more reasonable, the feelings and the emotions are probably the same. I miss the absent minded, repetitive action, and exhausted mentality of sports. During certain drills and even sprints when the only thing I could hear was my own haggard breathing I always felt like I was thinking clearly.
    Writing may not be physically exhausting, it can be just as mentally exhausting. There is that feeling after scribbling an intense fury of words where you have spent fragment of creative energy in your writing that you sit back and reflect upon your work. That feeling to me delivers that same rush as sports. So basically after reading your post, I know it’s meant to be “Why I write” and you write for different reasons than I do, but I think that I can relate to you in some aspects.

  2. I think what is really interesting about what you have to say about swimming is this idea that there are things that we are passionate about besides writing that ultimately guide us to writing in an unconventional way. You said that you used to hate writing, but being away from swimming caused you to find a new way to feel the way you did when you swam. I think a common theme among writers in our class seems to be that a lot of people do not see themselves as writers from the start like Didion and Orwell expressed, however people are seeing how things have led them to writing. For you it might be swimming. For others it is something they are passionate about. It kind of sounds a lot like the categories that Orwell defined in his Why I Write essay.

    In response to Sal’s comments about the mental exhaustion of writing, I would definitely agree that writing can be mentally exhausting (and physically exhausting if you are a procrastinator!). However, I can’t relate to the feeling of a rush after writing like I feel in sports. Mostly, I feel relief that I was able to express what I wanted to finally. Does anyone else feel a sports-like rush when writing ?

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