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January 4, 2014
I've never cut myself. I was too scared. Once or twice, a while ago, I put the blade from a pair of scissors to my forearm with a trembling hand. The steel was cold. I closed my eyes and pressed down, but not hard enough to break the skin. It would be so simple... just a little farther and my skin would split easily. The blood was waiting to spill forth, just below the surface... Before I knew it, the scissors were in the drawer, the drawer was slammed shut.

A thin, white line marred my pale skin, but it faded quickly.

So that wasn't going to be my story after all. But I needed some sort of release, some way to let my feelings escape my body. If the emotions that turned my stomach and battered against my brain went out with my breath, maybe they wouldn't ever find their way in again.

That's when my writing changed. Smiley, happy fantasies twisted and mutated, becoming darker and darker, more full of screams and blood than laughter and light. I played with heroes who weren't really heroes at all and sometimes the dragon ate the princess whole - and the knight in shining armor, too. I stopped letting my parents read everything I wrote. It wasn't submitted anywhere, and sometimes it wasn't even saved. My writing was for me to pour out my feelings at three in the morning and delete at four.

It tapered off. I'm caught in that surreal time when the hurricane has passed and the rain falls softly, trying to wash the world away. My writing is still my outlet for the things I need to release, but now the sadness is quieter, less angry, and there can be hope and light there, too. The characters smile again.

"Teen angst," the online articles tell me. "It's a phase. You'll grow out of it."

And they wonder why we feel so misunderstood.

Look, I know that a lot of teens feel this way. And our writing reflects it. But honestly, I don't write for the approval of the world. I write for myself, because I need to. And if I share it with other people and it means something to them, too, or if it makes them think or feel, great. If not, oh well. My writing is always a little piece of me, a piece that wants to me shared with the world. It's cathartic to get it down and read it back again. It removes me from the experience and makes it seem less daunting, more manageable.

Reading this over now, I see that, yeah, there's some angst. But you know what? I don't really care. These are my thoughts and my emotions, and they're not any more or less valid because of my age.

The world can say what it likes. This is me.

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JRaye This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jan. 8, 2014 at 1:53 pm
You said it all. We all go through it, we all get over it, but that doesn't make it hurt any less. We've all got a different story, and you expressed yours beautifully and honestly through this piece :)
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