Another installment in the series of posts of the WCWW scholarship contest winners and runners-up! Today’s post is written by Gloria Adams-Hanley, one of the five scholarship winners. Enjoy!
The Dragon at your Door
For someone who has such a profound interest in communication, you’d think I would be properly equipped for… well… communicating with people. My major passions are writing, teaching, and theatre. Each of these fields requires the ability to form sentences, to make connections, to speak up. And when it comes to writing a poem, explaining a theory, or reciting a monologue with feeling – I’m there. I’m your girl. But ask me to give an impromptu speech, or to call someone up to make plans, or to say the right thing to a hurting friend, you might want to scroll past me on your contact sheet.
It’s not that I’m mean. I go out of my way to be giving, caring, and available. Just like it’s hard to tell what direction you’re going in a blizzard, it can be difficult to identify the communication issues plaguing a relationship when you’re the person struggling with it. Everyone thinks differently, in their own internal brain-language that we translate into our human-language and human-behavior. For some, translation seems effortless. They speak fluently and confidently in most situations, respond well in social situations, and develop surface relationships easily (in other words, they network expertly). For others, they stutter or freeze in social situations. They don’t know when to call, or what to say when they get an answer. Some, like me, are so shy they become ashamed of themselves.
Which is why I have developed my interest in communication; I struggle so hard to be understood that the struggle itself has become an interest of mine. I love to read books on conflict resolution and communication techniques. I sit one-on-one and talk at length in meta-cognitive bursts of self-awareness about my issues and needs. And as a result, I’ve gotten better. I doubt I’ll ever be a champion at impromptu speaking, but slowly and surely I have made important strides in communicating with friends and family. And while I might still be awkward on the phone, I’ve found a way to express my voice and communicate what my soul is singing: poetry. I’ve turned my weakness into my strength.
If I had never had the pain of being misunderstood, or dumbfounded trying to resolve a fight with a friend, then I wouldn’t have searched out my patience for poetry and revision. My talent in writing is not the words that come out first- that is in fact my downfall when speaking, that I say things mixed up and wrong. My talent in poetry is in calming down, accessing the intention of my words and figuring out what I’ve said wrong, in analyzing and revising. If I weren’t so awful at saying things right the first time, I never would have developed that reflex.
Because I desperately needed a chance to rephrase my words and make sure they came out right, I found my voice in writing, and even developed a philosophy of writing and revision: It doesn’t have to be right the first time, but it does have to be written the first time. Finding writing has transformed my life. I’ve presented my poetry at a national student convention, had a short play I wrote performed before an audience, and have written a screenplay that led to my co-founding an independent film company. Finding my strength inside my weakness literally transformed my life, my plans, and my identity for the better.
This is not to say that I am already an amazing writer; I have a long road ahead of me. This is not a story of success yet. Right now, it’s a story of process. A story of finding a path and choosing to walk it. A story of taking the ugliest, most painful part of my personality, and learning everything I could about it, taking the weapon used against me and wielding it in my defense.
That dragon beating down your door? It might just be your ride to a better place. Tame it.
Gloria Adams-Hanley, (known to friends as “Green”), is a poet, playwright, screenwriter, and mother. She is an English Education Major at St Edward’s University. She has presented original poetry at Sigma Tau Delta national convention, written a short play performed at the 2010 New Works festival, and is currently producing her first screenplay, Hard Bargain. She occasionally jots down stray thoughts on her blog.