07 August 2013

#IWSG: Hello to 8th-grade me

I spend rather a lot of time professionally thinking about myself as an 8th-grader. In my professional life, I am often given the guideline to write "at an 8th-grade level." This one always baffles me. As I am not personally acquainted with any 8th-graders, I have no recourse but to attempt to remember myself as an 8th-grader.

These aren't particularly useful imaginings in the sense that the guideline was issued; in most cases, it would be best to tell me to write "simply and concisely" than to make me think of myself as an 8th-grader because frankly I had an awkwardly enormous vocabulary for an 8th-grader. It was rather unwieldy for my 8th-grade mouth, so I mostly spent a lot of time feeling like an idiot when I spoke. But as far as reading comprehension went, what I would consider understandable for 8th-grade me is beyond what people mean when they say some piece of writing ought to be at an 8th-grade reading level.

Nevertheless, the guideline is bandied about as though it ought to be meaningful to me, and thus I duly reflect on my 8th-grade self.

It always starts out somewhat awkwardly. I know more about her than she knows about herself, after all. The benefit of maturity, hindsight, and chronological distance from her problems gives me the upper hand in understanding her. The fun part is when my mind eventually does what seems a natural flip: imagining what she might think of me. Well, what 8th-grade me would think of today-me.

I no longer devour stacks of books every weekend as if they were water and I were dying of thirst. I can't say that I'm sorry to have lost that compulsion; I genuinely wondered at the time if it was healthy, if I might be addicted to books, if it were possible for a person to become addicted to books.

But then, I am writing. It's not easy, and the secret may be that it might never be easy, but I am writing and I am learning and I am happy with that.

I spend an ungodly amount of time thinking about punctuation. Or an amount of time that would be considered ungodly if you didn't believe that clarity of communication is important. Which I do.

I actually spent a not-insignificant amount of time this evening looking at be-comma'd jewelry, which I somehow refrained from purchasing. (I'm amazed, too.)

Anyway, 8th-grade me thinks now-me is pretty cool. Which doesn't say much about my cool-factor in reality, as 8th-grade me was an introverted, awkward bookworm who was frequently accused of being - gasp - antisocial. So what does SHE know about cool, really?

But damn. I don't always think my life is very cool. It's nice to sometimes realize that it's going a way that I couldn't have imagined and would have found cool.

Now You!

What would 8th-grade you think of now-you?

This post is in participation with hundreds of insecure writers who dedicate the first Wednesday of every month to post about insecurities: doubts and fears that we have or have conquered. Check out the Insecure Writer's Support Group for more information and a list of the other participating writers.