Do you know that deep, churning feeling you get in the pit of your stomach whenever you see something so horrendously awkward? The way your face twists and cringes, but you just can’t seem to tear your eyes away?

That’s how I feel every time I look at an old poetry piece I wrote.

My heart is locked and bolted

But you hold the key

Will you find a way to open it

Will you love me?

The words of a depressed, angst-filled 14-year-old who was certain that the whole world was against her fill the pages of an old journal that had been lost underneath a bed for over six years.

I’m tired of going in circles

Just going round and round

I thought it had a meaning

But it’s all so pointless now.

My instinct told me to burn any evidence that I even knew how to write before high school, to delete any scrap of poetry I had ever created.

But before I could, I realized something.

No matter how bad they were, no matter how much physical pain they caused me when reading through them, my old writings were still a part of who I was at some point in my life. No matter how embarrassingly dramatic the writings were, they were still me.

I spent about two hours looking at old pieces I wrote, first flipping through journals before moving onto old computer files. Little by little, I began to notice a change.

And I like it when people laugh weird, because you know that it’s an honest laugh. I really love the ocean late at night or early in the morning before dawn, when it’s still dark and cool out. So I go and I sit and I watch and I listen. And I wait for the sunrise.

I had obviously, at some point, realized poetry didn’t have to rhyme and be in ABCB format, nor did it have to be about lost loves and heartbreak. It could just be about little moments and simple experiences.

I don’t regret many things at all, because I believe that even the biggest mistakes are experiences you can learn from. But if there is one thing I know I would regret, it’s that I wake up one day and realize that I lived my life for others rather than the one person who truly matters.

Beyond the change in writing style, what I see now is a girl growing more and more confident in herself with each piece.

No matter how crappy it is, everything you write and everything you feel is valid. It doesn’t have to be a work of art or win a prize to be worth something. It simply has to mean something to you.

It may make you want to crawl into a dark hole, and the only thing it may inspire is vomit, but in the end, there is no such thing as bad poetry.