I am a story-teller.
When I was five or six, can’t remember now, I wrote – with the help of my already alphabetized big brother and my comic nerd of a father – my first story, a comic book about a vampire. Don’t ask me how I knew what a vampire was at the time, but I remember him being a rather nice fellow that walked around in a cape and had fangs so big they reached his chin. Needless to say my brother and I had poor drawing skills, but there I was showing first signs of story-telling.
As I grew older, I’d create plots for my cousin and I to play when we spent time together during summer vacation. Okay, for the most part we’d engage in Harry Potter Universe acting, but I’d make my own modifications (since she’d never let me be Hermione or Gina, and I wouldn’t simply take any other minor characters so I had to create mine). One year I adapted “Little Red Riding Hood” so it’d be playable in less than half an hour and with four characters only, and I remember very vividly how much my grandfather laughed as me, my brother and my two cousins played our parts so lamely. Poor old man almost had a cardia arrest there, and that was the first time I noticed something I had done had entertained people. So I continued telling stories.
A while back I started working with some great people and there was this one day in particular, we were all sitting around our working table, talking about the most random subjects, until one of my friends – her name was Beca and she had the most beautiful red hair I had ever seen – told me that whenever she wished to tell someone else about me, she’d describe me as ‘my friend who tells stories really well’. Beca had no idea that at that time I was struggling with one of my many crisis and I had been questioning my habiliteis. Not as a story teller, as a writer. And when she said that something in my heart told me: “Juliana, this is the best compliment you have ever gotten.” To be known as a person who could speak up and get people hooked, interested, made me realize how many times I had heard something like that, like when in eleventh grade my best friend told me he’d never read any books because it was always better, more amusing, to hear the books told by me. Or when my mom said I was funny because I had my own way of describing situations, an unique way. That day I needed to hear Beca’s words more than I thought I did and more than she’ll probably ever know and while it didn’t made my crisis any easier I had acquired a certainty, a fact about myself that was much needed to what I’d come to call the ‘Who am I’ list.
Two years passed since that day and I’ve been through many crisis since then. I questioned my talent as a writer, doubted my passion, second-guessed my choice to study literature in college and my decision to go to college once more to become a journalist. I threw away notebooks with chapters and more chapters of fan fiction written, I started blogs that I abandoned violently, I even began using Google Docs to share my failed creations with my best friend, only to reinforce how much of a failure as a writer I was. I had no interest in following an academic career because I wrote my essays poorly. I decided (very strongly) that I didn’t want to be a teacher because I had no patience for writing classes to people that didn’t care. I started working in a publishing company as a proofreader because I was certain I was born to read and not to write ever again. Until this last Wednesday, during a History of Art class, when my professor cried, remembering a photograph and the story of a photographer that touched him deeply.
I noticed that during the two days prior and the classes I had in this new college project, I had found myself watching my new professor speak of their professions so passionate that I couldn’t stop smiling. I watched one of them tell us a story about his writing process with a racing heart. I listened to the other share passages of her past with the urge to grab a notepad and write it all down so I could pass the story on. I met new people with whom I shared moments of my life and they stopped, and listened, to a point where I stopped breathing, and talking, and doing anything else because I could feel it in my heart, and my bones… In my soul, if you will. That touch, that breath that told me once again: You are a story-teller.
I am a story-teller.
Whether that makes me a good writer, or a good journalist, I don’t care. I am what I am and while I can be so much more that I haven’t learned yet, this is the first step to a long process of self discovery. This is a very important step that will lead me on a path I have no idea where it ends. And I don’t want to know. What I want to is to listen to more and more stories and to watch people speak up with passion, to have it pour over me so I can learn and have more and more stories to tell. So here I am, once more, starting what I’d like to believe is going to be a long journey of learning, making mistakes, making emends after, smiling, crying, laughing, but most importantly, story-telling. I once wrote a blog entry that ended with me affirming I am a writer. I am not only a writer. I am a journalist. I am a daughter, a reader, a worker, a student, a friend. Today I end things differently, I end them with the start.
I am a story-teller.
And I am going to be so much more…