A good writing exercise to help with developing characters is to create a persona for each month of the year. Describe them as if they were a person. You can simply describe their physical details, or you can go deeper and give them a background. Make it as descriptive and symbolic as you like, but focus on creating the character. Below is my person of February.
It’s a rarity to be on her good side. She has been broken too many times, therefore she never trusts anyone, at least, not completely. People love to give her negative labels, but you’d be just like her if you had watched your life completely crumble around you and had been powerless to stop it. When she walks down the street, people naturally move out of her way, probably because of the sour expression that is constantly etched on her beautiful, pale face. Her features are striking, especially her eyes, which are a piercing ice blue that seem to stare directly into the darkest part of your soul. Her hair cascades down to her chest; its color as black as night. She wears heels, so that she may tower over everyone she meets. She enjoys looking down at them after people looked down at her for so many years. There is no use in trying to restore the life in her eyes, for inside, she is already dead.
Notice how it isn’t very long, but it does do a good job of helping the reader picture February as a person. You could expand on the story, describe her clothing, her shoes. Where is she? Where is she going? What is her job? The point is every piece of writing can always be either finished or a work in progress. That is up to the author.
Always try and find something that makes you happy when times are tough. It can be the simplest of things. For example, when I was dealing with some heavy depression and became suicidal, one thing that helped me get through that dark period was a concert that I had tickets for in two weeks. But it doesn’t have to be that big. It can be as simple as when I finish this paper, I get to go play basketball. When I get off work, I get to see my friends. The point is when life is hard and exhausting, look for a bright spot and focus on that.
We should all be reminded that we are all unique. We all deserve the best possible life we can get and we all matter. Don’t be just another fish, be a mermaid.
This piece was made from newspaper clippings that were in the New York Times. I made it to remind myself that our history is what shapes us into the people, the society, and the world we are today.
When you struggle with anxiety, as I do, there are good times and bad times. The good times are when you feel impregnable and empowered, like nothing can hurt you. When it comes to anxiety these can be subtle things, like when you miss your exit on the freeway and your heart doesn’t start racing and panic doesn’t creep into your brain. It’s those moments that make you stop and wonder, “Where the hell is my anxiety?” These moments feel amazing, because you actually start to feel a little normal. You start to feel like maybe you can finally beat your anxiety, however, its tricky little thing, because at the snap of a finger it can slam back into you, and totally knock you off your feet. These are the bad times. When it catches you off guard and you’re totally unprepared. Those moments that make you turn on your heels, and sprint down the hall, back to safety. I had one of those moments today.
A month ago, I thought I had finally kicked anxiety’s ass. It had seemed to have totally disappeared from my mind. It felt great at first to be functioning almost normally, and not to be constantly looking over my shoulder. I felt strong and invincible, and honestly a little weird. It was a sort of feeling like when your parents decide it’s time to take away your pacifier. You don’t really miss it that much, but you feel like something is missing. It was like someone had ripped away my security blanket that I had been hiding from the world under for so long. It was a strange sensation that I was finally starting to get used to when…
Side note: a year ago I had a huge falling out with half of my friends that I have regretted every day since. It wasn’t totally my fault, but about 90% if it was me and my sick, depressed, anxiety ridden brain. Although that is not an excuse for my actions. I was supposed to go in and say hi to them with two of the friends I still have. I was there. Right outside the door, ready to go in. When suddenly about four distinct voices rang out of the room, one of them being my old friend “let’s call her Tamara” who I am still so afraid of. I felt overwhelmed by anxiety, and turned around and ran and then hid under my bed like a two year old. But while I sit there crouched into a ball in the dark ignoring my phone, I couldn’t help but wonder, why me?
Why was I cursed with this stupid brain filled with anxiety and depression and sadness? Why was my head so much more screwed up than everyone else’s? And most of all, why is it so much easier for some people so go out and be social and have everyone like them, when I can barely walk down the hall without being terrified of someone seeing me? Why can’t I be social and well liked? Instead, I hide behind a mask of superiority and arrogance and push away just about everyone that gets too close. It’s so frustrating to want to change who you are, but still not be able to. When will my time come to feel accepted and wholesome? When will the darkness that is constantly clouding my brain finally be gone?
There is one job in this world that rises above all others in matters of importance. No, it isn’t the doctors or the policemen, who are important, but not as important as those who spend their lives inspiring people. Inspiring people to become doctors, policemen, and even congressmen. They provide people every day with the skills they need to become whatever they desire. They’re the people who are greatly underappreciated and wildly under paid, but yet they wake up every day and go to work, because they care more about the well-being of others than themselves. Yes, I am talking about teachers. These men and women dedicate their lives to passing their knowledge to fresh, new minds. Whether they are teaching children the alphabet or lecturing a class of med school students on how to properly remove a brain tumor, they are trying their hardest to create better people to send out into the world. Every single one of us has had several teachers along our way, but ask yourself this- how often did you thank them? Thank them for getting up every day and standing before your class, even on their worst days. Thank them for putting in countless extra hours, hoping to make each lesson a little better, a little more interesting, in hopes that the students will enjoy learning just a little more. Thank them for accepting mediocre pay, even though they hold the most important job in the world. Because without teachers, there would be no doctors to remove that brain tumor, no policemen to arrest the man that murdered your son. Our society would crumble without them.
As a girl who had trouble fitting in, teachers were my salvation growing up. My best friend in high school was a teacher who cared enough to go beyond his job description in order to make a student’s life a little easier to handle. That teacher inspired me to pursue a career in education, because I knew I could be that person for another young student who feels out of step with the world. In my small high school, the halls were filled with excellent teachers who showed that they truly cared for each, and every student that was fortunate enough to pass through their classroom. Teachers who worked hard to make their lessons a little more relatable to life and a little more enjoyable. And they were not thanked nearly enough.
So thank your teachers. Tell them that they are appreciated, and don’t take them for granted because you will miss them when they are gone. Take the time to show them that their job matters. Because it is that gratitude that help shape better teachers, making learning a little easier and a little better for students everywhere.