During my freshman year of college at Southern Utah University back in 2010, an academic advisor gave me multiple personality tests. These tests were supposed to help guide me toward a profession I’d enjoy. At that point in time, I had already changed my major five times (English-Theatre-Business-English-Psychology-English). In hindsight, I really should have known that I’d one day land in English. Denial really is a funny thing.
In any case, up until that time, I had always felt like there was nothing I was truly good at. I was good at singing, but I knew people who were better. I was good at writing, but the same deal. I felt like there was nothing I was truly great at. Knowing this about me, my advisor gave me a test he called The Five Strengths Assessment. It was a 200-question test that was supposed to help me understand my five greatest inner strengths. After about an hour of answering questions, I had my results:
I could go on for pages on each one of those strengths, but one has stood out most for me ever since. The words on the printout I received for Connectedness were…
...You gain confidence from knowing that we are not isolated from one another or from the earth and the life on it...Certain of the unity of humankind, you are a bridge builder for people of different cultures...
It blew me away. I had always felt this throughout my life--this idea that all people are connected to each other. That isolation was never supposed to be a part of the human experience. And then there were those words, printed out on paper, that told me this belief was my greatest strength in the world. That I could be a “bridge builder for people.” It wouldn’t be long before I realized writing was a way to do this and the need to write hit me with the speed and power of a bullet train.
I rode that train for the next few years, not knowing exactly where my next stop might be. I moved around Utah for a while and even spent some time in Germany and Switzerland (a whole different story for a different day). It wasn’t until I landed in Logan, Utah that I found my feet in the writing world.
Now this story may not seem like it has a designated point or purpose--after all, I am known for my tangents and distractibility--but there is a reason why I’m talking about all this on my first post. That reason is Connectedness.
I write to connect. I write to understand and to create understanding. I write because it’s the best way I know how to communicate with others. I live in a world of words that fill my head and spill from my fingers onto pages that I hope someday will be seen by others. It can be terrifying at times. Terrifying in the way that makes me want to curl into a ball under my desk and never leave again. Terrifying in the way it makes me pause over the “post” or “submit” button every time I send something out. As I hover over those laptop keys, I can’t help but wonder what it’s all for--why I put myself through this--why I didn’t keep majoring in Business.
And then I remember that test.
Connections are what matter most to me. Connections with my family. Connections with my friends. Connections with strangers and people I meet on the street. Writing is my way of communicating best with all of them. And that thought is enough to help me push that button, send that essay, finish that book. It’s enough to make every rejection worthwhile and every success bliss. Enough to get me back on that train, taking me nowhere and everywhere at the same time.
It’s enough to keep me typing.
And that’s really all I need.