I always loved reading as a child, but loving reading doesn’t make you a writer. Then I began to write down my own stories—journals of my fantastical tales of superheroes based off of my best friends and science fiction adventures about alien cows and radioactive corn. I wrote about anything and everything I could imagine, but my young self only saw writing as a fun pastime. It was my future goal—at that time, I couldn’t even comprehend the thought: I am a writer.

Still, I kept writing. When I made my way into high school, I faced the ultimate challenge of the casual fiction writer—non-fiction essays. I struggled with each essay, barely grazing the top of the C range for grades. I remember spending countless hours surrounded by several short stacks of flashcards—each covering a point I wanted to discuss. I would lie on my bed covered in books and rest my eyes while I thought about the topic again and again, waiting for the words to separate themselves from the darkness. They rarely did, but my persistence paid off in the Lord of the Flies paper when I received what I assumed would have won Most Backhanded Comment the Year. My teacher told the class, “I was surprised. This student”—because of course she wouldn’t say names—“wrote better than I thought he or she ever could.” When she handed my paper back after class, it had a lovely B- on it and red marks splattered across the text.

Her words shocked me, enraged me, caused the acute destruction of my pride—she praised the thing my perfectionism deemed a failure. My anger at this comment, at her nonchalance and even at my lack of skill in writing festered until I felt it would bubble the acid right out of my stomach, splashing her with violent bouts of word vomit—I remained silent. My only recognizable thought—I’ll show her.

I bottled up the rage, forced it into a small box in the back of my brain and fed from it each time I wrote a paper for her class, or any other. These words and their lack of hope in my future success—which I’m now sure she never meant in that way—fueled my motivation and my passion for writing. In that moment I remained silent and proclaimed my future success. To spite her doubts and despite my own, I became a writer.