Stevie, short for Stephanie, is a self-proclaimed coffee addict, wife, and mother to three fur babies that have taken over her heart and home. A lover of words and yoga, she blogs at Joy in the Midst of about her quest for joy and learning to love a little deeper, laugh a little more often, and live with more gratitude for all the blessings life has given her. She serves as a contributing writer and Community Lead for the SITS Girls and can also be found hanging out on Facebook or tweeting away at @joyinthemidstof.
It took me a long time to refer to myself as a writer. For many years I simply didn’t feel worthy of the title. But a writer I was, from the moment I first learned to put pen to paper. It started with creating simple sentences. I like milk. My mom is nice. Simple sentences that I wrote completely on my own. And then, at the age of nine, I wrote a book full of poetry. Admittedly, it was rife with spelling errors and not really any good. Nevertheless, those poems were, as my writing has always been, my heart in word form.
In the beginning, there were diaries with tiny locks and keys. Then journals. Short stories. Spiral bound notebooks full of scribbles, unfinished poems, thoughts, musings.
When my parents divorced and I fell into my first deep pit of suffocating depression, my writing was probably the only thing that stopped me from imploding. Or exploding. Take your pick. It was how I coped, how I processed the overwhelming waves of emotions that crashed over and over inside my chest. You see, writing, feeling, thinking – for me, they are one and the same.
Perhaps I could’ve called myself a writer when I started to give poems as gifts. Or when some of my work was published in my high school literary journal. It would have been fair to claim the title during my stint writing for my college newspaper. Maybe even when I started submitting short stories and poems to literary magazines only to receive a rejection notice in return; what can be a more true writer’s experience than that? But even then, I couldn’t call myself a writer.
I had a lot of fear. I desperately wanted to be a writer, but was terrified I wasn’t good at it. I shuddered to think of the cognitive dissonance that would sweep down on me if it turned out I wasn’t decent at the one thing I obsessed over excelling at. And given the fact that my depression and anxiety were still largely untreated, when it came to my writing, I couldn’t see straight.
My depression was a constant undercurrent, ebbing and flowing unceremoniously like the tide. In the back of my mind, I knew I needed medical treatment. I was afraid of what that meant; that I had failed somehow because I couldn’t find a way to fix myself. On a deeper level, I worried I wouldn’t be able to write anymore. What if I couldn’t write when I was happy?
But as it turns out, medication was not only the best thing I could’ve done for myself, it was also the best thing I could’ve done for my writing. I have described my emergence from depression as going from seeing the world in 1 bit color to 32. And that only gave me a broader spectrum of color to write about.
The eve of my 30th birthday I started a blog. I’d been on medication and living (relatively) depression-free for nearly four years and I had a whole new outlook on life. I wanted a place to chronicle my new journey. I was on a quest for joy, trying to love a little deeper, and live with more gratitude. Joy in the Midst of was born and I started tapping back into that inner creative energy. I was writing again regularly, and it was delicious. In fact, you might even say it made me whole.
It took me a while to acknowledge it, but at the very core of my being, I am a writer. It’s not only how I think and feel, it’s how I learn. Finally, after 30 years, I have the courage to say: my name is Stevie, and I am a writer.