My Two Passions

Hannah B., Class of 2023

It was the first full essay of my first accelerated English class, and the prompt was, “Pick any argument and persuade me to your side.” At that time, I didn’t even know what literary devices were, but what I did know was that I felt exuberant as I made words flow together transforming simple letters into a full persuasive argument. When I read that essay over it felt as if I was looking at my own work of art and not simply words on a screen. This was shocking to me because before that point I had never felt that way about anything. Don’t get me wrong, I liked things, but never this much.

Why does writing make me feel like this? Like a dutiful dog, this question followed me for years. I wondered if it was simply because I liked it or if it came from a deeper cause; that being if it had anything to do with my penchant for knowing how people worked.

In the summer between my sophomore and junior year, I found my answer. A teacher I often spoke with told me of a program where high schoolers could enroll in college classes for free and earn credits. She said to me, “There’s finance, English, and of course Psychology-“, my body moved before my mind could even process it. Within the next hour, I received more information from my guidance counselor, and by the next week, I was enrolled in PSY 100.

It was a year’s worth of learning squeezed into a seven-week class. Despite that, even as I spent every day and night, stressed and studying, I was constantly on cloud nine. All I did was learn and talk about psychology, it was the only thing on my mind. Then, before I knew it, the course was over, I had aced the class, and for one of the first times in my life, I had pursued something.

That Junior year I also took AP Lit, and it made PSY 100 look like a walk in the park. Everything I knew about writing had been thrown into a dumpster and set ablaze. Introductions were no longer eye-catching and full of questions, the slightest grammar mistake would dock my grade, the writing style did a 180, and between all of that, every second of free time I had was spent on this torture chamber of a class.

When I told my mother this she side-eyed me and said, “Well don’t you dare drop out,” I instantly responded, “Of course not.” Afterward, when I thought over my answer I realized I didn’t only say it to appease my mother, but also because I would never quit. Sure, at the time I despised the class, but quitting? It wasn’t that I had accepted I would receive a low grade or that I believed everything would work out, it’s that as always I had realized that I would simply make things work out. I would ace this class and I would adapt, there was simply no other option. And so I did. By the end of the course, I knew more about writing than I ever had and my writing style had completely transformed. I lived and breathed writing and was enamored by every second of it: literary analysis, deeply planned essays, and their masterful construction by my hands. I may have loved writing before but now it was unlike anything else; I had found my second passion.

Perhaps coincidentally or not at all, similarly to psychology persuasive writing was better written when the author understood their audience. By knowing what an audience would doubt in their piece, they could write a counter-argument beforehand designed specifically to cleanse these doubts and thereby elevate their piece. Through these similarities, my two passions have been able to aid each other and bring an even greater level of joy to my writing.