Salam Auntie Agni,
I am starting university soon. I have always been an average student while my siblings, older and younger, have always been toppers; I was bullied because of it in school. Those years were dark times, in which I fell into depression and attempted suicide multiple times; my family doesn’t know this. To this day, I don’t know how I survived, but the credit partially goes to writing.

In 7th grade, I started writing everything that was eating me from inside — my classmates’ rude and disgusting comments, the names I was called and I started to shut myself, believing I was all of those things. After finding refuge in writing, I started feeling better, at least I didn’t want to die so badly. From pouring out my feelings to writing novels and poetry, I have completed five novels and almost 35 poems and I am just 19. I want to publish them but I don’t have the confidence to. I always doubt myself and ask why would anyone read my trash? I want to change young teens’ lives through my writing; I don’t want anyone to feel the same loneliness I felt.

What if I fail yet again? I’ll be the laughing stock of all those who used to call me a loser. I want to shine but I’m afraid of opening up.
Lost Dreamer

‘I don’t want to fail again’

Dear Lost Dreamer,
Thank you for sharing your story. It takes a lot of courage to do so. You have faced significant challenges. However, your ability to turn to writing as a form of expression and solace is amazing. Your journey speaks volumes about your resilience and creativity.

Your desire to publish your work and make a positive impact on the lives of young people is commendable. It is also completely normal to fear failure when starting something new, especially when it involves sharing personal and creative expressions. The first thing you should do is not to refer to your work as ‘trash’. Completing five novels and 35 poems by the age of 19 is a significant accomplishment.

Have you thought about connecting with other writers, in person or online? This will give you a sense of community and help with your mental health.

Also think about starting small. You can go for full book publication right away but submit your poems on literary platforms. If you get published, it will build your confidence.

At the same time, understand that failure is a part of growth. Don’t stop writing in case your work doesn’t get published right away.  Setbacks are a part of any creative process. Finally, seek out and talk to a mental health professional and, at the very least, reach out to friends and family if you need to talk.

For now, keep taking small steps, and be patient with yourself. Wishing you strength and courage on your journey.

Disclaimer: If you or someone you know is in crisis and/or feeling suicidal, please go to your nearest emergency room and seek medical help immediately.

Auntie will not reply privately to any query. Please send concise queries to: auntieagni@gmail.com

Published in Dawn, EOS, November 19th, 2023

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