Where is MY Voice in MY Writing?

In high school, my writing was often curtailed by my teachers’ expectations of a strict set of regulations.  I have always been one to think outside of the box; however, due my teachers’ dissatisfaction to my unusual writing style, I have become dependent on a set of “writing rules” for whenever I am assigned to write an essay.  Throughout my high school career, all I wanted was to be able to express my individuality through writing, but alas, I shied away from it.  Now that I am in university, where the professors feed off of individuality, I have realized I can’t supply that through my writing, for it has been drained.  For our practice essay in this University Writing class, I was elated to find out that I would be able to develop my own question to research.  Unfortunately, I found myself continuously asking, “What should I do?  Does it need to be like this or that?  What are the rules?”  I had finally gotten my chance to “do me” in writing, but it felt the most unnatural.  What was “me”?  Where was I in my own writing?

I decided to bring some familiarity to my essay. The assignments was to analyze the rhetoric of a community organization, and I decided to analyze the Latin American Youth Center (LAYC), as that is where I am volunteering.  I wanted to analyze how the LAYC uses the “Nurturing Parent” technique (instead of the “Strict Father” technique) to empower the marginalized youth.  Working to be an ally to the marginalized people in the United States is a passion of mine, so this motivated me to delve deeper and do more research for the essay.  However, being that there were no guidelines, I struggled in the approach of my research question.  I had to choose a framework and the objects of study, but I did not know how to dissect this.  My framework was George Lakoff’s “Moral Politics”, but since I was analyzing this framework, was that my object of study? I realized that my object of study was what I was going to use to test how this specific framework was employed at the LAYC.  I knew the “Nurturing Parent” style was preferred at the LAYC, but how was I going to prove it?  Would I write it like a narrative or an analytical piece?

Eventually, after the workshops in class, I realized I could take it any way I wanted to.  My workshop partners built up my confidence by telling me that my research question was interesting, but I just need to straighten out the difference between my framework and my object of study.  They helped me tie up the loose ends by suggesting I describe things more, and I appreciate their advice because I now realize where I was missing certain vital details.  I added some stylistic pieces here and there, and I laid out the facts. The point is, this essay truly helped me to begin finding my own voice through writing.  This is imperative for me to be able to accomplish, as I need to be able to reach people through writing in my future career if I want to spread my ideas.  I think I worried too much about what I was not doing right for this essay, which is why it is not perfect, but I am ready to do better on my final research essay.