A familiar struggle with unfamiliarity


The pleasantly warm feeling of a new school year accompanied the atmosphere on most of my early, fall days. They were a mixture of unease and curiosity accompanied by a touch of humidity and an overbearing sense of unfamiliarity.

The beginning of my junior year was riddled with these balmy afternoons. It was a softness that gushed with uncertainty that plagued my thoughts, but I went along with it anyway, attempting to stroll through my untrodden classes with false confidence in the hope it would evolve into something more sincere.

In the midst of my unease, I found myself able to retain a few small details: remembering people’s names is valuable, a strong handshake is fundamental, and a sentence should never be left hungry.

The first two pieces of advice from my new teachers slightly threw me off as I expected to delve deep into the demanding work of junior year. The advice was short and simple, yet it stuck with me.

The third, however, has lingered over me this year. These past few months I’ve spent far too many hours in the depths of my mind, foraging for the words that are just right—words that created something real out of my intangible thoughts.

Yet occasionally, as I was rummaging, the innocent snippet of advice echoed in the back of my mind.

Never leave a sentence hungry.

Now, who would I be to let the English language starve? How could I leave my words with an emptiness that aches?

Among the unfamiliar scent of a stressful year, I attempted to appease the pesky voice that poked at my brain like a toddler asking for attention. It begged for attention, begged to be seen.

It was a seemingly never-ending struggle that tormented my writing because even when I poured myself into my words, it sometimes never seemed to be enough.

I’ve tried to nurture them, to embellish their bare bodies, yet I had to watch as to not emboss them with too much extravagance. It was an issue of finding a balance that, for some reason, could never come off as equal.

My words gave my thoughts a home. My words were shells that allowed my thoughts to stand up; thus, I felt a sting every time my sentences were weak, messy, and fractured. All I wanted was for them to feel fulfilled; I yearned to feed them.

My mind mocked me, never leave a sentence hungry.

I’ve taken away pieces of myself to feed my words, and I can only hope that has been enough.”

I’ve tried. I’ve tried to strengthen my words to allow them to survive the deterioration of time so that even when I wilt, my words will not.

I’ve tried to build a sufficient home.

My thoughts haunted me. Never leave a sentence hungry.

I apologize if my effort was never enough.

I am now met with a different sense of unfamiliarity: the creeping warmth of summer. In the meantime, I can only hope my words don’t forget my touch, my pleading voice. I can only hope they don’t forget my laughter, my tears, and my unwavering love because this is what I’ve built them with.

I’ve taken away pieces of myself to feed my words, and I can only hope that has been enough.