My favorite English word is ‘unlearn’. To me, it’s impossible to unlearn anything and yet, that word exists. It’s a sweet simple paradox.
This morning, ‘unlearning’ came to mind as I stared at a press release written for one of our projects. It was being edited and I was called so that I could learn from the revisions.
I thought back to my college days, when I was writing for the school paper, and began comparing notes. I knew that the context of the situations were different but, at times, I couldn’t help but internally reject some of the practices/tips given to us because it was different from what I learned. Most of the time, I have to turn off the pub-side of my brain to be able to write press releases according to how the industry wants it to be written.
It’s been almost eight months of that now. Of course, I haven’t been writing press releases only. I’ve been writing various communication materials also, and because of that, I had to adopt the business/marketing language – whatever that is.
This morning, I was just worried that unlearning is actually possible. I worried that by trying to adopt to a certain communication style, I had unlearned one that I am proud of having acquired. If that was the case, then the special-ness of my favorite word would be gone and I’d have to blame myself for being so careless with words and communication.
But then, as I spaced out and thought about it some more, I realized that I did not unlearn. I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to write a good news article, using the rules I came to know, if I tried. It won’t be phenomenal, but I will be familiar and okay.
Maybe, just because I haven’t been doing it as much, I have temporarily forgotten. I may have put that skill to sleep in the comforts of my head, but it’s there. And everyone knows, you can’t run after waking up. It takes slow and sluggish steps to get accustomed to being alive again.
Writing is who I am, and like the things we learn and come to realize, our identity is not something that can simply be taken away.