When I was a kid, I never dreamed of being a princess. I never wanted to be a firefighter, a policewoman or even a superhero. When I was a kid, I wanted to be a writer.

I started writing stories early in elementary school. They were simple, just a few pages, and I was always the protagonist. It’s obvious from my first book—a tale of my magical escapades with a completely original character named Thumbelina—that I was no child prodigy. But despite their consistently plain constructions, I wrote a lot of those stories. It wasn’t until fourth grade, though, that I felt I could pursue writing as a career. My fourth-grade English teacher noticed how much I loved to write and started encouraging me to do it more, offering me extra feedback on assignments and coaxing me to get as creative as I wanted. He was the first to tell me not only that I could be a writer, but that I should be one. Thank God for teachers.

After I left elementary school and proceeded to middle school, I still loved writing. But as increased schoolwork and social stress began to weigh on me, I found less and less time to put pen to paper. Though this upset me, I couldn’t seem to make the time. So, to protect myself from that regret, I chose to push writing to the back of my mind. Eventually, I wasn’t writing at all.

For years, whenever I was asked what I liked to do, I continued to include writing on my list of hobbies. But, believe it or not, this is where I got into trouble. I wasn’t writing, but I acted like I was. Soon, I became overwhelmed with guilt about my procrastination, so much so that the guilt poured over into fear: the fear of writing at all. I always felt that I had to prove I was still incredibly talented despite all the time I had spent not writing. And I knew that whatever I wrote would never be as good as it could have been if I had never stopped.

It seems the silliest thing, being scared to do something you love. But sometimes the things you love, the activities in which you pride yourself the most, are the most terrifying. Simply because you anchor your identity in them to the point where any errors you make feel like digs at your personal value. One of my close friends loves to sing, but hasn’t allowed herself to perform in years. She’s convinced that, because her passion outweighs her skill, she must not be worthy of pursuing that passion. I have other friends who love art but haven’t created anything in months, who love running but rarely exercise, and who love acting but refuse to audition for a play, all because they believe they’re not good enough to deserve the identities of artists, runners, and actors. It’s a trap that’s easy to fall into: You convince yourself that, if you can’t excel at something you claim to adore, you are inadequate as a human being. And it makes sense—who is Mr. Incredible without his strength, Einstein without his intelligence, or Harry Potter without his magic? When we reduce ourselves to a single archetype, the idea that we might not be able to perfectly fulfill that identity is paralyzing. That’s pressure no one should have to bear, but many of us place it on ourselves anyways.

The thing is, though, the difficulty is really only in starting. Once I do put pen to paper, the words flow effortlessly. I’m reminded of why I labeled it one of my favorite pastimes for so long. I wonder why in the world I was so afraid. But deciding to begin, to brave the possibility that what I create might be garbage, yet choosing to create anyway, is the hardest part.

I turned nineteen a few days ago, and I’ve decided that I’ve spent enough time procrastinating doing something I enjoy merely because I’m scared of not being good enough. I want to try something radically different: failure. I know what happens when I botch a math test, run a slow race, or endure a brutal breakup—the next time, I use what I’ve learned from those shortcomings to get better results. I’d rather write tons of terrible articles than only dream of writing great ones, because it’s only by actually writing that I can develop those skills. I want to be accomplished, and I’m willing to fail as many times as it takes.

Maybe one day, through lots of time and practice, I might actually consider myself skilled at writing. Whether or not I ever do, though, I’ll have spent my time doing what I love. For that, I will gladly grit my teeth and summon the courage to start.

So welcome to my column. Hi, I’m Rebecca Torrence. I want to be a writer. 

Rebecca Torrence is a Trinity sophomore. Her column runs on alternate Fridays.