By Alejandra, age 17
Being in a room surrounded by women holding pens and notebooks, as one woman stands at the front, her voice clear and loud, and her message just as strong – it can change a girl. She can become addicted to the unbelievable high that comes with empowerment. I know I did. This is why I couldn’t resist going to the last WriteGirl workshop, even though it fell on the same day as my school’s prom. It would be about memoir writing (my favorite genre) and hosted at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
So at 10 AM, I pulled up to the all too familiar Urban Light exhibit – you know, that aesthetically pleasing cluster of street lamps that everyone has photographed for their Instagrams at least once – and, as soon as I met with my mentor, began the day’s writing.
For a teenager who is totally inexperienced with art, the art at the LACMA is, at first glance, totally random and sometimes even nonsensical. However, when I took a closer look and held my gaze as suggested by the writing prompts provided for us, I found small bits and pieces of myself in the artwork.
We had the opportunity to visit many amazing art exhibits throughout the museum, but there was a piece in the Rauschenberg exhibit that stayed with me throughout the entire day. It was the blank outline of a man’s body, but plastered across his chest was a picture of a statue’s face. I was so focused on its stony, piercing eyes, that I didn’t even notice the small, muddled gray square painted on the crown of the outline’s head. My mentor pointed out that his head appeared to be “clouded.” Nice touch.
Those eyes! I felt like I was looking directly into someone’s soul, like they were the portal to somebody’s raw emotions – their deepest fears and greatest joys, and that all of those things would spill out and transfer over to me if I held their gaze for too long.
It probably isn’t possible to do all of that with just a look. Or maybe it is? I’m not sure. I do know, however, that it’s possible with words. I’ve read many stories by great authors who I connect with and who have made me feel lifetimes of emotions while only being 17. But could I do that?
It turns out I can. We all can. We just have to love and trust ourselves enough to do it. As writer Rory Green said during the WriteGirl studio session, try to find and own YOUR story. It can hurt. It can be full of “ugly” things and sadness, but it is still your story. “Writing about painful things, giving yourself permission to write about these things,” she said, “it can release you.”
When she said that, I felt such exhilaration and relief, like a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders. I felt free. I never knew just how badly I needed someone to tell me this.
In that moment (and in moments since then) I have been keeping track of events in my life that have impacted me deeply and shaped me into the woman I am today. I’m glad to say that this workshop is definitely one of them. Thank you, WriteGirl.