Pick Up Your Pen


She called me into her office after English 101. My adjunct professor taught in the Psychology department, but was assigned a freshman writing seminar and I numbly sat in a desk on the first day. I dreamed of being an English major, but as weeks turned into months, I felt myself becoming a shell of the writer I imagined I’d become. Desperate for an A in the class, I wrote my midterm paper two weeks early and submitted it for an early critique so I could make changes before the official deadline.

I pulled up an orange chair to her desk and saw red ink. Everywhere. Her notes filled the margins and I dreaded the oncoming conversation. She asked if I was a first generation college student…if I had taken proper english courses in high school…if my parents were immigrants. I silently nodded. She said she suspected as much and went on to say I’d have a hard time majoring in English because, well, writing seems to be difficult for you, Jasmine.

The weight of her words crushed me.

At the end of the semester, I decided to major in Business Administration and never took another writing course because I believed writing was difficult for me. I believed her red ink.

There are days when her words haunt me, but I decided to share my stories online (typos, errors, and made up words included) that later opened doors for me to publish EXPOSED Magazine. Yes, this first-generation college student and daughter of immigrants wrote a book about photography. Boom.

I’m thankful for every experience, especially this one. My professor said I couldn’t do something and I believed her. And there might be people who say you can’t do something. Well, you can choose to believe them and waste years of your life and talent on mere suspicion. A hypothesis. Or you can pick up your pen and write. Your camera and shoot. Your bike and ride. Your voice and sing.

You hold the proverbial pen…make mistakes, struggle, and write. Your story is waiting to be told.