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Military Vagabond Turned Creator: The Winding Road of my Creative Journey

Every time you meet someone new, one of the first questions they ask is always “Where are you from?” For most, this is a rather easy question. For me, not so much. My answer as I met each new person was a variation on “Nowhere and everywhere, my dad is in the military.” A lot of my creativity was developed within each of the new places wrapped up in that one answer.

For an introvert and a painfully shy child, trying to make new friends every two years was daunting. It also came with a lot of feelings that I had trouble vocalizing. So, I often escaped into the two things that remained constant in my life: writing and books. I could write out my feelings in order to get them out, whether in a stream of consciousness style in my password-protected journal (pizza was the password by the way) or in a made-up story where the characters were going through similar things. Or if I didn’t want to deal with my feelings, I would grab the nearest Nancy Drew and join her on the next investigation. I used creativity and consuming creativity to cope. Something that remains true for me at age 24.

Over the years my love of creative writing flourished, and my love of books never wavered. English teachers through the years encouraged my writing which made me take a look at it more seriously. I got really into poetry during middle school and found that it was the perfect medium to express emotions I was having. I was and still am notorious for not letting people see my work. I think as most creatives can attest, we always think our work is bad or not quite ready. If I do ever let people read my stuff, I have to be in a different room entirely. But sometimes when I was growing up, my parents would stumble upon my work laying on the dining room table, pulled up on my computer after I’d left the room, or buried in schoolwork they were going through. I remember one poem, in particular, I wrote for an English class that was basically playing out the day I said goodbye to the park across the street from our house in Arizona that I was at every day after school during 5th and 6th grade. It was a particularly hard experience for me, especially looking back at it by the time I wrote the poem, from our new town where I wasn’t making connections. The poem was quite sad and I remember a couple of years after my mom found the poem, she told me how much of an impact it had on her. Similar to a picture my brother had drawn years before that was just him in the middle of a completely colored-in page with the word “alone” at the bottom, it allowed her a glimpse into feelings that I wasn’t outwardly displaying. It was one of the first times I realized that words I wrote could actually impact another person.

Then moving to high school and college, I began taking creative writing classes to work on the craft. I even got seven chapters into a novel that will never see the light of day (similar to the twenty other unfinished projects on my laptop.) I also started a blog called Pasted on Smiles as a part of my social media marketing class that focused on my mental health journey that incorporated all of the things I had been doing since I was young: stream of consciousness, poetry, book recommendations, and writing instead of talking about my feelings. It was an incredible creative outlet that felt the most "me" in terms of the creative work I had shared. It fell by the wayside as I started my first full-time job but, it’s something I’d love to get back to now that I am more settled.

Coming full circle in terms of how I relate to my own and others’ creativity, my current novel idea that I’ve been working on and am determined to finish one day, came from a conversation surrounding a book I had just finished. If I’ve learned one thing through the winding road of my life and where it has taken me it is that creativity often sparks creativity and creation is always there for you when you need a home.

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