Passionate

Passionate—Ambitious to the point of actively putting as much heart, mind, body, and soul into something as is possible. See also: Affectionate, devoted, intense.

It’s that infamously age-old question: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” We’re asked this continually as children, when we are at the age where we don’t even know what we want to do tomorrow, and yet we are expected to have an entire life layout tucked away somewhere. For many, this expectation sets them up for disappointment and the devastating feeling of personal failure. For others, it is the spark that lights a blazing fire of ambition straight through to adulthood. I was lucky enough to fall into the latter category.

I am a writer.

In 1995, I was a plaid-skirted second grader attending Catholic school in Red Bank, N.J. I had only just learned to read and write the year prior, but I was already hooked. There was a giant oak tree in my backyard, the branches of which curved in just the right spot for me to climb into and read for hours. I’d go to the library with my mother and come home with a stack almost as tall as my own body. I wrote in a little lock-and-key diary every day. And while the other kids looked forward to lunch and recess, I couldn’t wait to get to English class. I can’t recall the plot of the poems and short stories that I wrote back then, but I do remember the feedback. It was Mrs. Ciambrone who wrote a little note on one that read, “You truly have a way with words! Someday I’ll be reading your book.” She wasn’t the only teacher to express such sentiments throughout the rest of my elementary and middle school years.

I started writing my first “novel” when I was ten. It became quite the hefty manuscript over the next couple years as I happily typed away in my Creative Writer program. I’m sad to say I never completed it. But I poured my heart into those pages, longing to see my name someday sitting on the shelves of Barnes & Noble, the store that became a sanctuary for my word-loving soul.

At 16, my focus shifted. I took an Introduction to Journalism class as a high school elective and spent every morning perusing the newspaper with my classmates. It occurred to me that I could still have a career in writing—and it could really mean something. It could make a difference. I joined the school paper immediately. That one class set me on the fast track to becoming a reporter. As I said, I majored in Communication Media in college and slowly began to envision what my life would become once I hit my mid-20s. To be honest, it hasn’t been at all what I had hoped or imagined, but it’s getting there.

Throughout all the frustration, my love of writing has never wavered. There’s a quote from Rainer Maria Rilke that always springs to mind when I try to explain it: “Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depth of your heart; confess to yourself you would have to die if you were forbidden to write.”

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