Whenever I hear stories from people, I ask, "Have you started to write about it yet?" Most people say no. I can imagine many reasons why they don't write their own stories. However, I would say, "why not?"
I remember how insignificant I thought my life was at age 11. The writing that won in the contest was about the connection between this 11 year old girl, same age as me, and her grandmother. Finding her grandmother's belongings, some kind of jewelry, made her appreciate after her funeral. I submitted my own writing to the same contest, and my name was not as big as hers in the magazine. My name was the tiniest among 300 other applicants who participated. And I lamented, "Well, my writing didn't win, because I don't have any tragedy in my life yet. The winner's grandmother died, but not my grandmother yet. My grandmother was yelling at me from downstairs, "Take the laundry in! It is going to rain soon!" I couldn't make this episode as a topic for the writing contest. I pathetically thought no one was interested in my day-to-day frustration about my life. Reading my daily frustration ,in my diary, would make me angry. So I didn’t write any irritating events. But these frustrated incidents didn't get away from me and they haunted me time to time.
Several years later, I learned that talking about my experiences and my thoughts about them would make me feel lighter. I noticed that I didn't have to drag my burden anywhere after I exposed my past memories to random people, family members, and a therapist. Little by little, in some occasions, I found that telling stories helped me. That's when I began thinking about writing my experiences. I wanted to free myself. I wanted people to know that they were not alone. I wanted everyone to know that they would get over it, if I could. I wanted to let people know they could, too, be free when they open up. You cannot measure or compare your tragic episodes to others'. When you feel severe pain, physically and emotionally, it is a tragedy. Everybody has pain even if it doesn't look like it. Some people manage their pain well and some don't. I chose to manage my pain by writing.
Soon I realized my painful memories were not just pain, but lessons that made me grow who I am today. I say and act in certain ways just because I now can notice, accept, and appreciate a present moment. Perhaps I was afraid of being judged if I told my pain to someone, then. I cannot change the past. I don't want my past to take over and haunt me. If you choose to learn how to live with a past that cannot be changed, you can. Pick up a notebook and start jotting down your memories, good and bad. I had more than 40 bullet points when I started.
More than a decade, 40 bullet points became a book, Gift of Gratitude: Lessons from the Classroom. Writing a memoir means facing yourself and choosing to move forward.