A guest blog by college student Chloe Sariego
Halfway through my freshman year at Sarah Lawrence College I was told investing my education in creative arts wasn’t a realistic idea. My confusion and misguided embarrassment over my naiveté turned into a resentment toward poetry.
This resentment only grew over the summer. I worked for a non-profit, and when I wasn’t at the office, I toiled at a burger restaurant. I had somehow stumbled into a very costly and tiny New York City apartment. The summer was expensive, hot, and exhausting. I had turned to writing again, but felt frustrated and confused about whether it was a waste of time. I hated the city, but mostly, I hated myself.
When I got to the 2014 Mendocino Coast Writers Conference, I felt for the first time in months that I had space to breathe. I was given the opportunity to work with Sharon Doubiago, a beautiful poet, mentor, and kindred spirit, as well as with my poetry workshop group, where I met supportive and brilliant poets, whom I still keep in touch with today. I felt inspired to unpack stories I had been holding inside me. These stories produced poems, and I began to cope with how harsh I was being with the self who struggled in New York. The conference gave me the space to experience the pain and confusion from the pressure of school and living alone.
I will be spending my junior year abroad in one of the most competitive schools for economics and social sciences, The London School of Economics. I know, regardless of school pressure or whether I find myself “successful,” there will always be an underlying current of my true purpose. This is what Sharon really taught me in that short weekend.
For the tender-souled, all of our experiences are waiting to be opened and shared. Mendocino has always been a place of tenderness for me, with its cool weather and plains of beautiful flowers. It’s the place where, in years past, I took solace in summers away from my home. It is a place where I can be alone. But unlike New York, the alone-ness of Mendocino allowed me to re-connect last summer with what is most essential to myself, the creative spirit.
I don’t think that I would have been able to continue writing without my time at the conference. Surrounded by other writers, I found, once again, my breath.
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