I’ve always had a thing for words. I was fond of the way that they could create a faraway land from a blank piece of paper, or be transformed into catchy melodies. I admired that they had the power to persuade entire countries and that they could somehow make memories feel tangible. I was mesmerized by the way that words could paint a vivid picture in my mind and make me feel emotions by proxy. 

It’s probably evident that I’ve also always had an active imagination, which I’m sure helped my affection towards words. By active I think I really mean overactive– I found myself in dystopian universes, with magical powers, and a villain I needed to run away from. I found myself on trips across the world, as the descendant of some Greek god. I found myself a guest at Gatsby’s parties and on strange islands with unruly boys and the Lord of the Flies, and it’s my imagination that allows me to still feel like a little kid every once in a while. I wanted to pluck characters out of books and befriend them in real life, but I guess that’s all part of the appeal, right? Words and books and lyrics, I now realize, are a way to escape the world around me, or at least escape my brain, which tends to be overcrowded with thoughts. 

I think, however, that I really fell in love with them way before the dystopias and the magic and parties and islands, and that it was my dad who taught me that real-life power comes in the form of being the one holding the pen. From what I’ve heard about his childhood, I believe that he, too, was infatuated with words from a young age. Although he never became a professional author, which I think he had probably once dreamt of, he’s always been inherently a writer to me. It’s in the way he recounts stories and his perfectly curated jokes. It’s in his silly text messages and the cards he writes for my mom (cards exchanged between my parents have always come in pairs: one funny and one serious.) It’s both admirable and a little bit annoying that he’s so aware of his words, meticulously choosing the right ones for every occasion. That was actually one of the first lessons he taught me as a writer, “Say what you mean and not what you think you mean, Anastasia”– which in hindsight was probably just a lesson about life. And although words fascinated me, I never thought I could be skilled at being the one who held the pen. 

Last month was my 3rd year anniversary of writing for The Daily Feels! I remember my first blog and how wonderstruck I was by all of the possibilities of how I could use my words. I remember I decided to write about names, about my name in particular. I wrote about how names have connotations behind them, that people often make assumptions about a person based on their name. It was meant to be an introduction of sorts, but looking back, what I really did was write about words. I am still wonderstruck by all of the possibilities of how I could use my words. In fact, it often takes me a while to decide exactly what I want to write about. However, I think that eventually, this became like a sort of journal for me. It’s been a crazy three years and a lot has changed, but writing has always felt like a constant. It’s so unlike the other hobbies I acquired over the years; there’s never been a team or competition or grade I had to worry about. Writing always relies solely on my enjoyment of it. 

So thank you, for allowing me the space to be vulnerable. Thank you for allowing me to learn that I love stringing words together, as much as I love how others do the same. I hope that one day I’ll have the confidence to be able to say ‘I’m a writer’, instead of ‘I love to write.’ I hope that one day I’ll think of myself as inherently a writer, like my dad. I hope that it will be in the way I recount stories and the jokes I choose to tell and the cards I write because truth be told, my dad still reads everything I write before I send it off. It’s always, “Say what you mean and not what you think you mean, Anastasia.” 

And maybe one day I’ll be able to create characters from skeletons of people I knew and universes from places that only exist in my head. Maybe one day I’ll curate stories that don’t just spew from whatever is going on in my mind. But for now, I’d just like to say thank you for escaping into my brain every once in a while. 

How lucky I am that people want to read my words. 

Anastasia Meininger is a college student currently studying psychology and communications.

She has been writing for The Daily Feels since she was 15 years old. Now 18, her life may have changed, but her wonder and passion for storytelling has remained the same.  Falling in love with performing arts at a young age instilled this passion, as she found comfort in the idea that everyone and everything had a story.

She loves listening to music, taking photos, and dreaming of places to travel one day. Her family and friends are her most prized possessions, and her hometown of White Plains holds a permanent place in her heart.

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