Moments in our lives are like bracelet charms. Some are cute, some colourful, some are jagged; they dig into our skin. When I think back to earlier years, of primary school in Footscray, in Turkey, in Meadow Heights, my charms don’t jingle, they don’t make a sound. That’s because I had no voice. When I was eight we’d moved to Turkey for two years. My first day at school I stood in front of a class of twenty or so kids, my hair a boy short mess, heart in my mouth, staring at the first word of a story I was asked to read to assess my Turkish. The word was Ev. House. I knew the word; I was tutored briefly before starting school to have basic reading and writing skills. With each second that passed the word got bigger and bigger, it took over the page. Ev I repeated in my head over and over, felt my lips move, heard my teacher’s encouragement, took a deep breath, looked up and saw the smirking kids and the word got stuck in my mouth like an ulcer. My teacher let out an exasperated sigh and closed the book. The kids laughed out loud and my confidence was crushed by a one syllable Turkish word that followed me home to Australia. When I think back now, it’s that moment that dictated the rest of my education. In high school my friends called me ‘D for Demet’, that’s the grade I averaged until year 11 when an inspiring speech from the assistant principal made me realise that I could have the one thing I’d convinced myself I wasn’t good enough to achieve: success. This moment was my catalyst for change, my lucky charm.

Five years ago I found myself in a Professional Writing and Editing course at Victoria University. I was going after a profession that wasn’t encouraged at school or recognised as a career at home. I sat in that class with fear eating my confidence but this time I trusted my gut. I had courage and belief and they’ve steered the way ever since. Well most of the time. I often doubt myself, my writing, my voice and some days the term ‘writer’ just doesn’t fit. Sometimes I’d rather vomit than write but I still sit there and face the screen because even with its ups and downs writing is a part of me, it’s the only time I make sense. I’ve come a long way from that scared little girl in a foreign classroom but now I have a new battle with my writer’s confidence and my emotions that fluctuate with doubts, fears, successes and rejections. Some days I still hear the laughter of those kids but this time I spit the words out. I keep writing, keep learning and continue to raise my voice.

Advertisements