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Goeun Park: Sharing personal stories can be hard but needed

I forget that people can read this.

Rather, I consciously block that tiny detail out of my mind as I poke at my keyboard on Sunday nights. Of course people can read this; it’s a published column in a weekly newspaper. I get paid to write what you pay to read.

But it’s still…weird. It’s weird that I find this weird. I’ve been writing these columns since last May and it hasn’t gotten easier. I’m learning how to write longer papers with longer words and picking up enough academic jargon to pretend I have a clue, but the Wave columns continue to stump me.

I spend hours thinking of what I want to say. Hours writing them down and scratching them out. Writing a page about anything isn’t too difficult, but writing a page about something personal (and, let’s face it, political) can be painfully difficult.

Until this job, I only wrote for myself. I didn’t care what people would think about my thoughts or ideas because they didn’t know about them. That’s not the case here. Once I submit a column, you, the readers, are free to judge me as you please. For the time you spend reading this, it’s the least you deserve.

Being on this side of the writer-reader exchange is both extremely gratifying and mildly unsettling. I think my own writing can make me uncomfortable because I’m conscious of how petty and naïve I can sound.

Sometimes, I read something I wrote the week before and become very embarrassed by how young I am.

I try to think about things that are important, but in the end, I write about things that are true to me. I write about relatively mundane observations and events like college life and self care and immense social ineptitude.

I try to extract words from sentiments like loneliness and bitterness because those are feelings that often resonate with me. I try to be honest, even if it’s boring, because as F. Scott Fitzgerald once advised an aspiring young writer: “You’ve got to sell your heart.”

It’s hard to be honest and it’s harder to make honesty look presentable, but that’s what I want to do. Personal stories resonate with people, and I want my stories to resonate with you. It’s the least I can do.

Goeun Park graduated from Detroit Lakes High School and attends college in California.