It is amazing how much writing can help somebody to unlock their potential and turn their life around. All some people need is an outlet for their creativity in order to get onto the right track. One of the best examples of this is a friend who I shall refer to as “Stevie.” When we were growing up, Stevie was a pleasant, happy kid. He was nice and polite to everyone and never put a foot out of place. Nobody would ever have expected that he would become a criminal in later life.
Stevie continued to be personable and affable into his late teens. When he was eighteen, he learned to drive and we would cruise about together, enjoying the excitement that was to be gained from having a set of wheels at our disposal. He was a typical adolescent driver, honking at girls and turning his speaker system up to full volume.
However, as is the case with many younger drivers, Stevie’s lack of experience soon led to an accident. He hit the back of a truck one day and went straight through the front windscreen, leaving him with significant scarring on his face.
Scarred for life
The injuries that Stevie sustained were not life threatening but damaged his self-confidence. He developed a condition known as social anxiety disorder, which is characterized by fear of social situations.
The Stevie that I once knew was now a thing of the past. He spent most of his time indoors and struggled even to talk to his closest friends, stuttering and stammering his words and obviously struggling. The accident had stripped him of his ability to socialize.
Descent into crime
Stevie’s condition left him feeling useless. He completed a university degree but felt that inability to muster up the courage to speak during job interviews would prevent him from ever finding meaningful employment—so he embarked upon a life of crime instead. He started off selling marijuana and soon progressed to cocaine, using his newfound edginess as a mask for his anxiety. Stevie was still just as scared of meeting people as ever but covered it up with fake aggression and attempted to be somebody that he was not. When he was twenty-three, Stevie sold drugs to an undercover police officer and received a prison sentence.
Discovering his talent
Stevie expected his time inside prison to be a living hell, but it was in there that he discovered that he had a talent. In order to pass the time behind his cell door, he would write about his experiences and soon realized that he had a gift.
Everybody he showed his writing to remarked upon how well he captured the details of prison. He soon had prisoners approaching him to help them put their lives into words.
A new beginning
Stevie left prison knowing exactly what he wanted to do with his life. He was still very socially phobic despite having been locked up with other people 24/7, but decided that it was not going to hold him back from making something of himself. He set out to become a writer. He sent articles to magazines and newspapers and soon had regular slots in several publications. Nowadays he makes a living from his work. Although he is yet to cure himself of his condition, he no longer needs to rely upon crime for his income. He is now a full-time freelance writer.
Although he committed immoral acts in the past, Stevie is by no means a bad person. He is somebody who made mistakes and allowed the trials and tribulations that cropped up in his life to drive him to partake in illegal activity.
Writing was his savior. It not only provided him with a living but also gave him an outlet to express his feelings so that he did not keep them bottled up and grow depressed about them. His story is a testament to the rehabilitative powers of putting pen to paper. By tapping into people’s talent for the written word, we can unleash their true potential and help then to become valuable members of society.
Eve Pearce is a full-time feature writer as well as an art and photography aficionado. She has written for numerous sites on various topics over the past few years.
Images provided by Eve Pearce.