It was a cold day in November of 2013. The walkways of my campus were frozen, the trees were covered in white, powdery snow, and the air was quiet and still. Few students were out during this time of year so my path to the bookstore and back was clear. It was too cold for the normal, unmotivated student; but curiosity fueled me that day. I rushed to the store, bought a plain, black composition journal, and conspicuously scurried back to my room like a new thief trying to play it cool after his first robbery. What was the big deal? To me, it was just a journal, but to the masses of the school it was a social no-no left for the strange, undesirable outcasts. Even worse, being part of the hockey team meant I had to uphold some sort of jock personality (typical high-school mentality) and writing in a journal was bolded and underlined in the “not-to-do” part of the manual. So it was a secret journal, which I bought anyway, in an attempt to find a new outlet for ideas and stress. Because writing, especially to myself, is not judged, there’s no criticism, there’s no hate. I don’t hurt anyone’s feelings; I don’t have to worry what others think. In such a fast-paced, unpredictable world, putting down ideas for future reference and letting go of unnecessary stress is something everyone should have the privilege to do.
Writing did for me what it is supposed to, free the mind to explore endless opportunities. First entry, I wrote about my day: the ups and downs, the cute girl who said hi to me, the boring history class with Mr. Rayl, the ridiculous weather, the good dinner with my friends. Yet, I set unnecessary mental guidelines for my writing because I was confined to the idea that my writing was for a grade or for someone else to read. Fifth entry, I got into the detail of the day and more importantly, how I felt about it. The obnoxious kids in the school and how I thought they were raised, the always scary feeling of getting up in front of a class, the pointless yelling of my coach towards my teammates. I began to feel comfortable and trust the secrecy of my journal. It was beginning to be my own, private place that I had all to myself. By the twentieth entry I was drawing random pictures and scribbling whatever came into my mind. For example, there was a poorly drawn rhino (signifying strength), a poorly drawn mouse (resembling intimidation), and even a poorly drawn horse (symbolizing elegance). Key word being poorly because I was by no means a good artist. Besides, it was uplifting and joyful and I honestly came to my room after school to spend time to journal. I couldn’t figure out why but it just became something I craved doing. I came to understand that composition and rhetoric isn’t just written word, it’s much more. Songs, newspapers, blogs, and even casual conversations. These are all different mediums with the same objective; they’re all methods of attempting to be understood.
People try to be understood as who they are, and sometimes as who they want to be, the latter involving some deception. This idea can correlate perfectly to the professional world. As an aspiring realtor, composition and rhetoric mainly take on two different forms. Realtors must understand and be understood by their client, and they have to be convincing and sometimes strategic (a.k.a. manipulative). Any advertisements for a property or building use rhetoric to convince potential buyers to purchase, or at least investigate, what is for sale. Furthermore, one-on-one contact with a client as a realtor is instrumental for making sales, and effective use of composition and rhetoric would only aid in my ability to close out the sales. Unfortunately (for the buyer), there are agents who can manipulate them into buying property without knowing the several flaws. They only realize when months later, in their new house, the basement is flooded due to a pipe problem. All of their furniture wrecked, carpet ruined, hundreds of priceless pictured memories destroyed. The total physical damages amount to upwards of ten thousand dollars but mentally recovering is a much more difficult feat. Luckily, journaling has allowed me to better understand myself. I can use this knowledge to construct a bridge of trust with my client and lead them to the right place. More practice with writing also means I could draw more people into my business. Real estate aside, life, in general, gets hectic/chaotic. There are so many moving parts and there is so much happening that at times I am likely to be overwhelmed. Even if I don’t have someone, I’ll have something to turn to, a journal. I can slow myself down, relieve stress, think through my thoughts. I could doodle whatever I wanted, realistic or abstract, or write down random happy memories (like how I felt the first time I tied my shoe in front of my family); it can be my tangible “happy place.” I may not know my future, but at least I know there’s always an outlet for me to turn to.
For many young people (high schoolers in particular) writing is unexplored and unappreciated. Here is a public service announcement: Writing isn’t weird. It isn’t dumb, either. And the earlier kids realize this the better. The ridiculous stereotypes need to be forgotten and teenagers need to unite. They have to change the culture of journaling for young people. Teach each other how, share the positive outcomes, become the starter for this new trend. Write to change the view of writing. People write, use rhetoric and compose to be understood and allowing teenagers to freely understand and express themselves, through something like journaling, is beautiful. I have been there. I didn’t figure out anywhere close to all the answers: who I was, my right, my wrong, my place, my hope, my decisions, my schemes, my ambitions, my dreams, my end goal, my high, my reason, my why.
…But at least it got me on the right track.