By Beyza Yildiz
In school, my friends and I used to write each other letters where we talked about our daily lives and the things that annoyed us about teachers and other students. We would write the letters with our best pens, draw little flowers and hearts in the corners and put cute stickers on the envelopes before we sneaked the letters into each other’s bags. I cannot remember how this secret started, but I am glad it did because in those letters we could write about things that we would be too shy to say to each other in a face-to-face conversation. I recall talking about my issues at home and how I was so scared of the final Abitur exams. Talking about my parent’s disputes and how they affect me seems weird to talk about in a school break, doesn’t it? Well, in letters it doesn’t because my friend can just read it in private and my concern is still there – it is timeless.
On the Internet I once read about someone who advised reading when you feel underwhelmed or bored, and writing when you feel overwhelmed. The idea of writing whenever I felt very caught up in my own thoughts was very helpful at that time and became a habit since then. Taking advantage of one’s blurred thoughts makes a lot of sense because it helps in identifying one’s feelings and describing them in a way that depicts one’s mood. Journaling or keeping a diary is one of the ways many people cope with stress and impulses of the outside world, but to me writing is usually the most helpful when I feel really sad and bottle up all the feelings inside of me. Then, writing is my only escape and I use it to express my thoughts, feelings, ideas, worries and concerns.
In my first years of school I used to hate tests that graded our writing skills because I could not organize my thoughts and put sentences on the paper that said what I meant. This especially had to do with my bilingual upbringing because I could think of the correct Turkish word for something, but not the German one. In characterizations for example, I had trouble finding the German word for scarf, even though I knew it in Turkish. This is still a problem that haunts me to this day, and English and a little bit of Spanish added to this. There is for example a Turkish word “keyif” which roughly translates to “enjoyment” in English, however, the connotations of this word are not the same. Problems like this drive me to be a better writer because I want people to understand the feelings and nostalgia the word “keyif” conveys. A one-word translation may not transfer the feelings this word carries, but when someone pours him-/herself a cup of black tea after a long day of work and drinks the tea with a nice piece of cake on the balcony, then “keyif” has a much better illustration than the mere translation “enjoyment”.
In high school I had much more fun in writing because teachers allowed us to include our own opinions e.g., our evaluation of a historical event and its reception today. This encouraged my confidence in writing and later became one of my strengths compared to the sciences or maths. The task that I was most anxious about was getting easier with each writing task and I learned to overcome my insecurity concerning the language barrier caused by vocab-confusion.
Today I write because it is one of the most important skills that a Bachelor of Arts diploma requires, but I also write because it helps clear my mind and strengthen my confidence in observation skills. It is important to write so everyone can be included in sharing the beauties of written pieces, no matter the language. While translation may be a barrier between the understanding of a word, writings can convey the same meaning by illustrating the adequate picture of the word. Additionally, writing creates a piece that is timeless and can be passed down to other generations, so that today’s concerns, wishes and excitements can be understood by others in the future.