Belief in a Dream This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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     What if your life was meaningless? What ifyou didn’t care what people thought anymore, whether you wereloved, cared for, or appreciated? What if you lost everything? What ifyou felt hurt, unloved, used, abused and thrown away? Imagine that youdidn’t care whether you lived or died because your circumstancesleft you numb. How would you go on?

This idea may be foreign tosome, but to others, this scenario is too real. When I was 16, I knew agirl who hated herself. One day during a youth group meeting, I lookedat her. It was time for prayer, and in that silence, I was exposed tothe raw truth - on her arm was a scar where she had carved “I hatemyself.”

I realized at that moment that some of mygeneration is lost. We’d rather die than venture into the unknown.We’d rather get wasted than feel pain, and we always find theworst possible ways to get attention. Why has this happened? Teens haveforgotten what a dream is.

Cinderella is a perfect example of adreamer. Despite serving her stepsisters as a slave, she kept a secretplace for a dream and through it, she reached out to teens on everylevel. It is not only her despair we can identify with, but her hopethat we can be swept off our feet, and that by believing in our dreams,we can live an amazing life. With dreams we can accomplishanything!

Teenagers aren’t always considered powerful, soour aspirations tend to get swept under the rug. We are raised tobelieve that dreams are for children and fairy tales, and don’tbelong in a cutthroat, “me first” society. We are taughtthat believing in dreams will get us crushed in the real world when thetruth is that not believing in them is what will kill us.

After Isaw that girl at our meeting, something called me to make a differencein the lives of fellow teens. I wondered if I could make an impact in aworld of different cultures and ideas, so I decided to publish a book. Igathered input from teens and created a story about a character wholoses her way as she navigates the teenage years. She is hurt by othersand makes too many mistakes to turn her life around by herself, but noone seems to want to help her. She must decide whether to go after herdreams or fall into the shadows of her hurtful past.

My dream iswhat drove me. I researched publishing and learned that after hiring apublisher, agent, proofreader, editor, and distributor, I wouldn’tbe able to pay for printing, so I decided to self-publish The Book ofDreams. Self-publishing is not for the weak-willed procrastinator. I hadto take on many roles: publisher and agent, proofreader and editor. Idistribute and advertise the title. After $10,000 of fund-raising andtwo years of hard work, I had my book on the market. But still, nationalbookstores won’t accept self-published books, especially by teens.(There is the label problem again.) The work is ongoing, but since Ibelieve in my dream, I am helping others believe in theirs, too.

What’s wrong with believing in fairy tales, true love, andhappily ever after? Nothing, as far as I can see. Our generation has theright to make a difference. After all, who is going to be the next groupof politicians, doctors, teachers, parents and dreamers if not us?I’m living proof that through hard work, determination, andbelieving in a dream anyone can make their voice heard. Believing in adream got me this far - where could it get you?



This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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