I used to be a poet

Life Lessons

A few nights back, while cleaning, I came across a binder full of poetry that I wrote years ago. Obviously my cleaning was put on hold until the next day so I could read through them. Between the age of 13 and 18, I wrote hundreds of poems. Some of them were really good, others not so much… but it was such a wonderful way to see into the mind of my teenage self. I wrote mostly about my thoughts surrounding loss but every now and then I found something about pop culture, happiness or a great person in my life.

I started thinking… it has been 5 years since I wrote a single poem. I used to crank out multiple poems a day… I won contests, competed at poetry slams and even had a couple published. I was really into this poetry thing. Why did I give it up? Why would I let go of something that I was so talented at?

I realized I didn’t need poetry anymore. During my sophomore year of college, I started talking about my feelings instead of writing them out. It was as simple as that. I didn’t write poems because I loved the art form… I wrote them because it was the only way I was able to tell the world how I felt. I simply didn’t need that anymore… and that’s okay.

We change all the time. I don’t feel like it’s bad to let that one art form go. A few years ago, I tried to write another poem but just couldn’t think of any words. I used to churn out multiple poems a day but I found myself unable to produce even one. The strangest part was that I really didn’t care… it didn’t bother me to have my writers block.

These days I have different ways to express myself – I talk to my friends, practice yoga, blog, go to dance class and study improv. There will always be an artistic side to me; it just may be disguised a little differently. Many people that I shared my poetry with in the past often ask me if I still write. When I say no, they go on about how talented I was and how much I could help others by writing again. I take it as a compliment but kindly let them know that my poetry is in the past. I’m no longer interested in expressing my feelings through that specific medium.

I think that we are afraid to let things go – especially if we’re good at them. Let them go when you’re ready. For me, it was never about the poems being ‘good’… in fact; I was pretty unwilling to receive criticism, even if it was constructive. Poetry was so personal to me. It was my way of dealing with what was going on in my life without having to open up and talk about it. I could hide behind my words and claim them as an art form. That way, I was able to reveal my feelings to others without opening it up for conversation. When I read a poem at a competition, the audience didn’t have the liberty of asking me questions about my life. I didn’t have to reveal any more than I was willing to… it was all planned out and rehearsed.

So, poetry is well behind me. I’m okay with it. I have my poems as an excellent way to look back on my life and see how far I have come. I’m proud of the waves I made in the poetry world while I was in it but now I’m cool with sitting back and watching. I still appreciate the form… I just no longer feel a need to participate.

Understand other people’s motives behind quitting an art form, sport or activity. It may have nothing to do with whether or not the person loved it, was talented or believed in themselves enough. Maybe they grew as a person and no longer need an outlet to express their feelings.  Understand that it is a personal decision and they’re not simply ‘giving up’.

I have fond memories of my time spent working in and around poetry. I met a lot of great people and strengthened many relationships through the medium. I’m thankful for the strength and therapy I so needed and am very proud of the handful of excellent poems I produced. With that said, I’m very happy to be an audience member from here on out.

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