Why I Write

Second Place, Personal Column

“Writing in a diary is a really strange experience for someone like me. I mean not only because I’ve never written anything before, but also because it seems to me that later on, neither I nor anyone else would be interested in the musings of a thirteen year old schoolgirl.” These were the words of young Anne Frank in the initiation of her writings.

I came across this book when I watched the film, “The Freedom Writers,” and I became interested in reading this book. I actually never read a book on my own outside of school so this is when I decided to get a library card, and check out the “Diary of Anne Frank.” This was the first time I have ever checked out a book and read it on my own just for pleasure.

My name is Jonathan A. Aldana, and I write to you today as a 17-year-old boy who feels the same way Anne Frank did.

I had never written anything on a piece of paper until I was introduced to writing in my own journal when I met my close friend. I’d seen her write in her own journal and that inspired me to do it as well. She never found her writing worthy of being read aloud, nor was she ever comfortable enough to share her pieces of writing until she met me. When she spoke, the words that were written within her journal came from the depths of her thoughts. They sounded to me as if she were reading a book; she had a way with words. When I heard her voice delivering her deep thoughts from her poetry, it motivated me to write in a journal of my own that I plan to turn into a book someday.

As soon as I started writing in my journal, it became abundantly clear that the reason I write isn’t for me; I was writing for others. I began to fill my pages with the experiences of which my family and close friends have undergone. For the longest time, I’ve been longing to tell my story, but I also wish to tell the significant stories of those who I was raised around.

As humans, we all struggle. But when we see a person overcoming their struggles — especially when we can relate to them — it inspires us to prevail. I wish to write the stories that people feel like they can relate to. I wish to be the voice of those who have compelling stories to tell, yet do not feel empowered to do so.

 I write for those who suffered in silence and in fear of speaking up for themselves. Those who didn’t have a voice. Those who reached the breaking point to finally speak up for themselves, but weren’t believed. Those who were in desperate need of help but were neglected. I write for those who were victims of sexual harassment or rape. To those whose bodies were taken against their own will. Those whose virtue was plundered.

I write for those who grew up without a parent figure, as I did. Those who lost their parent or those whose parents were put behind bards because of a judge. Those who didn’t have someone to look up to, such as a father. Those who grew up with an incarcerated family member. Those who had to grow up seeing their father behind bars, such as the son of Shaka Senghor, author of Writing My Wrongs.

I write for those who were under the influence of drugs. To those who had to resort to it because it seemed to them that drugs were the last and only thing that can help mitigate the pain they had to undergo and endure alone. To those who had to see their loved ones under the influence of drugs, such as Brandon Dickinson, a rapper from the south side of Chicago. To those who are survivors because they didn’t want to stay victims forever. Those who seek to be survivors.

I write for those who became wicked because of the traumatizing events that they had to undergo. To those who can relate to my story, to maybe a slight or great degree, and the stories that I would be sharing within my writings. Those who hurt me that made me stronger. Those who have gone through bad experiences, and failed to perceive the life lessons. Those who have been recurring experiences because yet again, they cannot learn from it. But they will.

I write for those who inspired me to write. Those who were kind enough to give me their time to listen to my writing and gave me positive feedback. My two English teachers from Richmond High School who were involved in helping create this piece of writing.

 I write for my sisters. Those who made me learn about what goes into a relationship. Those who taught me that in order for a relationship to prosper, you have to experience the good and the bad, but to never give up on the relationship.  I write for those who want their story to be heard.

I write for those who felt they were incapable of making it through the night, as I have felt. Those who constantly fight demons within their minds who wish to overcome them. Those who deal with depression. Those who have suicidal thoughts. Those who have taken their attempts. Those who feel uncomfortable talking about this topic. Those who need help navigating their way. Those who are lost in the abyss.

I write for my older brother, Aaron Aldana, who gave me another reason to write, and also gave me another reason to one day turn my writing into a book, which I will dedicate to him. I wish to write his story out. I will forever write your name across the sky.

The final reason why I write is because it simply helps me gain a stronger mentality. I don’t want to bother anyone with my struggles, so I remind myself of Anne Frank’s words: “Paper has more patience than people.” Writing is my way to reflect on myself. It’s a way of organizing my thoughts, to be able to learn and take lessons in through my past.

This story was an honoree in the 2020 Lesher Awards competition.