Why am I compelled to write about my life? Why, after a day rife with deadline anxiety, the inevitable awkward door encounter and fear of never finding a big-girl job, would I rather write a blog post than break open a bottle of something strong (per the college social scene in which I currently exist)? Life writing, frankly, is one of the few realms in which I feel validated. Worthy. When I write about my life, I am good enough.
When Ander Monson wrote an entire chapter about his love of flavored Doritos in Vanishing Point, I realized I could capture the time I got hit in the head with a bowling ball in ninth-grade gym (it really happened). The time I fell hard for a European guy after only knowing him for my brief journey abroad — like a character straight out of the romantic comedies I frequently call unrealistic but love anyway. The time I qualified for the state tennis tournament as a high school senior and learned I may be down, but I’m never out.
I write about my life because I’m permitted to explore the same experience, suspended in a single moment, time and time again. Life writing and I both know I’ll never fully capture or comprehend it, and that fact neither agonizes nor deters me. It invites me to explore and redefine my existence on my own timeline.
I write about my life in all its minutiae to encourage other people that their experiences, too, are worth exploring on the page. The act of capturing identity in writing is a conversation between past and present selves, a friendly battle that is never resolved.
My senior capstone project began strictly as an analytical portrait of tennis memoirs, but my experience of the game crept into it, eventually weaving its way through the narrative. Life writing is automatic, and in the end, I realized I like writing about tennis more than I ever enjoyed playing it.
My identity as a tennis fan is no longer limited to the physical act of hammering forehand after forehand, botching volley after volley. Thanks to my friend life writing, it’s more nuanced, manifesting differently in my fan, player, spectator and writer identities. Life writing is my faithful source of self-discovery, growth and recovery.