My “quarter life crisis,” at 23

I looked at myself and thought, “What am I doing with my life?” I recently graduated college with a Bachelor’s degree in English with an emphasis on creative writing (good luck getting a decent paying job with that degree friends) and had no job, no graduate school and no hope. I woke up every morning and did the same thing: coffee, write and search endlessly for an “adult,” job. I drove myself mad, for what seems like months. I also got about fifty rejection letters from various journals during this time, each one of them cutting me a little deeper. I can’t begin to put into words how I felt about myself, empty, ashamed and even disgusted. Here, my friends are going to graduate school, getting married and starting a family, while I can’t even earn enough money to cover my student loans. Embarrassment was an understatement. I began to lose weight, mainly because I didn’t know what else to do with my time. Exercise until I couldn’t move, avoid eating and bleed words on to the book of poetry I was writing. Sorrow filled my soul. I’m not sure what else to say about my “quarter life crisis,” other than losing weight, dying your hair and crying everyday won’t help you succeed.
I felt like I was swimming in a sea of darkness. Day time was too bright, but the darkness was too black. What came from this experience was truth; in the form of a book I called “A Series of Darkness, Moments of Light.” My every darkened thought, my every hopeful moment was written into things I could never say aloud. This was my moment—the one that shaped everything I had written. I no longer worried about appeasing targeted audiences, the target was myself. I wrote to appease me, and even if no one ever publishes my work, I have something brutally raw and primitively beautiful.

Demons

I want to choke you,
he whispered against my head,
his hands moving leisurely,
to my neck.

Not only did my writing style change (I was writing fiction) but the way in which I wrote changed. There was no room to sneak around the truth, poetry gave me a few stanzas to say everything in which I needed to say. That is the beauty of poetry: in only a few lines, I can pour my soul out. In these moments I found that– I found more of myself than I ever had. I’d like to say my previous work was a reflection of myself but it wasn’t. The stories I told were laced with fiction, I took real life events and told them through a characters eyes. Poetry has brought my truth to life. Every moment, every feeling, is seen solely from my eyes. All I can write now is the truth whether that be a series of darkness, or moments of light. What has poetry offered to you? Has it offered you clarity?

-Kristen

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