When I began writing my column this semester, I didn’t tell my parents. I didn’t tell a lot of people. I was afraid that those I knew personally would read my innermost thoughts and judge me for how messy I sounded on paper. Originally, I contemplated churning out social commentary on my favorite internet memes as the subject of these bi-weekly installments because it seemed like a safe topic to write about. However, deep down, I knew I wanted to share my life lessons even if it meant being painfully vulnerable. I didn’t want to sacrifice the opportunity of facing my fears because it’s uncomfortable.
I was always hesitant while drafting my work. Was I glorifying my angst too much? Did I sound constantly afflicted and painfully self-centered? Was I oversharing a part of myself that would be better kept private? My intent wasn’t to bury my doubts. In fact, quite the opposite happened. I kept going in spite of my fears of exposing myself. I held on to some hope that by chance, the life lessons I had picked up in the process of making a mess could help someone. I originally challenged myself to write these words as a way to be more upfront. I wanted to prove to myself that I could accept my insecurities by presenting them in a constructive way, and I wondered if others could relate.
My parents found out mid-semester. A family friend had happened to read my column one morning and emailed my mom saying, “You probably knew about this already, but you should be proud of your daughter!” Then my co-workers found the pieces and asked me why I was writing about them. I even received emails in my inbox and DMs from strangers telling me that they had stumbled upon the column online while sipping their morning coffee and somehow the words resonated with them.
Perhaps beyond chronicling the development of self-discovery, I yearned to connect with others. Writing was the only way I knew how to do so, and, miraculously, I was blessed to receive just that through the encouragement and feedback I’ve gotten over the past few months. Though I was once apprehensive, I’m now incredibly grateful for the connections I’ve made and the people who have reached out to me regarding my column.
It doesn’t feel like it’s been an entire semester. A difficult part of writing was ending each piece. Yet, here we are. This is my last column, and I’m struggling to neatly tie up loose ends. I feel pressured to suggest that I have reached some sort of conclusive epiphany to wrap up my thoughts. But I don’t have everything under control outside of my writing, as much as I’d like to give the image of this. Life is ongoing, and I can’t separate the Old Bonnie from the New Bonnie, who I’d like to wistfully imagine as a completely changed and improved person, who is writing about her past in retrospect. But that’s not true. If there’s anything I’ve learned, it’s that life is often complicated and that it’s ok to not have a Plan B.
Through this column I’ve found my voice both in print and real life. I finally had my first real heart-to-heart with my mom, something I never had the guts to do throughout my adolescence. I was also honest with the guy I liked. Writing this column didn’t just give me a platform to share my perspective, it also gave me the courage to have authentic, verbal discussions with people — discussions I originally only knew how to have through pen and paper. And maybe that, in and of itself, is another step toward facilitating growth.
So thank you for keeping up with me this semester. Thank you for reading what I have to say and for the support you’ve shown. We have so much time ahead of us to learn and change. To make friends and lose them. To try something new and venture out of the safety of our comfort zones. To shoot for the dream job or talk to that one person. We’re in college. We’re not finished, but we’re certainly not alone in this process.
Bonnie Wong is a sophomore majoring in journalism. Her column, “Plan B,” ran every other Thursday.