I never quite know how to explain my story to people– there’s so many different traumas and joys and mundane details to sort through that my brain seems to short circuit with these introductory pieces or talking about myself. My system overloads. There’s a lot that I fortunately remember, a bunch I unfortunately remember, and probably some in there that I can’t quite recall.
So, I’ll start with the basics:
Who I Am
My name is Bianca; most people call me by my name, but my friends call me “B,” and my swimmers call me either of those or “Coach.” My life began in rural north Jersey, and still seems to be placed there for the foreseeable future, though I have moved to a slightly more suburban area since then. As well as a writer and a swim coach, I’m also a youth leader and summer camp counselor at my church, an athlete, and a textbook over-thinker. I’m twenty-two years old and in my fifth year of college, hopefully graduating in the spring with a B.A. in Psychology and a B.A. in English Writing Studies. I’m starting this blog for an e-lit writing class I’m taking this Fall 2022 semester, and we’ll see where it leads me from there.
I’m a follower of Jesus with a heart for ministry outreach and do my best to live up to that claim. Does being a Christian make me perfect? By no means. I’m still a human being that messes up and feels all the feelings, good and not-so-good, and falls short. Does being a Christian mean I’ll make my case for Christ in every conversation? No, but it is to some degree in all of my art.
That said, I love any kind of art and love having people around me willing to try different mediums with me. I’ve written poetry, creative nonfiction, micro fiction, short stories… and I’ve created with acrylics, tried mixing my own oil paints and attempted painting with those, toyed with fresh clay, dipped my toes into some digital design, sketched with pens, played with pastels, and somewhere along the way I tried printmaking and had a plexiglass etching piece accepted into the Spring 2019 Juried Student Art Show at Albright College’s Freedman Gallery.
But writing has been and always will be my first love when it comes to art (and this is where we get a little bit into who I was).
Who I Was
Yes, this is the section where I talk about who I was before I came to faith, because not only is that person a completely different me, but it’s also where the person I am today came from by God’s grace alone. Roll your eyes if you want, but I hope you’ll continue reading because this provides a lot of context for some of the creative pieces I’ve written in the past two years compared to before that.
I wanted to be the smart, social kid so bad when I was in elementary school. Sure, I made it into the “Talented and Gifted” (or “TAG”) program early on, but because I was the one always humming, tapping my pencil, or raising my hand regardless of whether or not I was confident in my answers, a lot of kids wanted little to do with me and were more interested in other peoples’ conversations about me. It drove me to a very dark point in life; by third grade, I’d considered some of the worst– like “would anyone care if I…?” questions– and only chose not to out of fear of being wrong (something I also deal with a lot as a result of all the bullying). While those questions faded with time for me, the fear of being wrong and social anxiety are still constant struggles today.
When sixth grade rolled around, I experienced a heavy loss in my family; though we didn’t speak the same language, I can honestly say that my Abuelita was (and continues to be) one of the most formative characters that the Lord has placed into my life. I don’t think I’ve ever been quite as honest with the Lord as I was in the weeks following her passing. Mind you, this is all years before I came to faith. The little bit of faith I had at the time shattered pretty quickly when people started bullying me for how I coped in the following weeks– from breaking into tears when teachers would try to quietly check in on me, to carrying around a beat-up journal and pen everywhere I would go. The moment it shattered had to be on the bus though, when some kid decided to snatch that journal from me, read some for the whole bus to hear, and tore some of the pages out. Not one person stood up for me. All I was left asking was “What did I do to deserve this? Shouldn’t You have protected me from this?”
Almost all this time I had been swimming for a club team, but I gave up my club team for a Catholic high school and the swim team there. The transition wasn’t easy for an insecure, very skinny, soft-spoken 15-year-old, and while it felt like not many people were helping me out I noticed one who definitely did. There was a lot that went on, but I think this and a couple other relationships that ensued are summed up pretty well by a piece I wrote last semester titled TRUTH.
While I’d been thinking about how God would be using all of this though, I realized in all my writing in the spring 2022 semester and speaking opportunities at youth and in other Bible studies where the Lord has been leading me all this time.
Who I’m Called to Be
I’m still called to be a writer of course– writing is something that the Lord gave me before I knew Him for myself because it was the crutch I needed to survive. I’ll always be grateful for that. But there have been other dreams and visions that just feel so God-breathed and real that I know that’s where I’m heading in life. A lot of those visions are insane considering who I was, but God doesn’t call the qualified but rather qualifies the called. I’m just learning to trust Him in that.
Among those dreams is becoming a speaker and a teacher of the Word (and yes, that’s allowed; 1 Timothy 2:12 is taken out of its full context when used as an argument against female teachers). When it comes to addressing some of the taboo topics within the church, there just haven’t been enough bold voices in the church to speak up. I’ve been through some of the taboo stuff. I’ve seen and experienced how the Church hurts more in its silence and lack of action at times, but I’ve also seen and experienced the love and healing the Lord brings people through the Church. My body hates the idea of this– of getting up in front of who knows how many people and speaking about the Gospel, applying it to the topics no one wants to talk about despite the recognized need, and fully expecting hate and discouragement for doing so on the regular. I mentioned before about the social anxiety, right? I’ve taken some opportunities to speak anyway though, and I was shaking through the whole thing every time. But I do it, and I love it.
I have other ideas like starting conferences and church planting or missions of some sort, but the heart and soul of what I’ve been called to has always included some use of words or expression– writing, art, and speaking alike– because there is literally the power of life and death in every word and idea we think or express. Words create stories. We all have stories to tell. And what blows my mind the most: God spoke everything into existence and He created us to in a way reflect that creative, life-giving quality.