When I started writing on TeenInk 18 months ago, I didn't know what to expect. I was a misguided teenager who had made a lot of mistakes. The biggest one was failing my Algebra I classs, which meant I had to repeat my freshman year all over again. I had never been so embarrassed and ashamed in my entire life. I felt like a disappointment to my teacher, to my parents, and even myself. And I would have spent my entire summer and year wallowing in self-pity, if it hadn't been for TeenInk.
I found out about TeenInk after my best friend suggested that I needed an outlet for all the emotions I was feeling. But this was back in 2016, so when people wanted to showcase their writing they used Wattpad. But as amazing as Wattpad is, it wasn't the platform that I wanted. So I went on google for about 10 minutes, until I stumbled upon a website called TeenInk. I clicked on the link and it's front page was so colorful. All those teen writers posting their truth and encouraging others to do the same, made me feel welcomed. But I was nervous and afraid that my words would mean nothing, so I decided to test the waters and submit a poem I had written when I was 12 called "What is Beauty?" I didn't think anyone would read it but I put something out there, and I was ok with that. But to my surprise later on that night, I got a congratulatory email from TeenInk saying my poem was on the front page of their poetry section. I was so amazed and astonished that I actually woke my parents up at 12 am to tell them the news. (They weren't happy at first, but when they realized why I woke them up, they were all smiles.)
After that, it's like the floodgates were opened. The rest of summer flew by and I wasn't even weighed down by my mistakes anymore. I kept on posting poetry but eventually I transitioned into full blown articles. I shared my opinions about feminism, politics, and even the power of social media. When it was time to go back to school, I was terrified that I would not be able to pass Algebra I, and that I would be a loser. But as I kept writing on TeenInk, more people read my stuff. People cared about what I had to say. I didn't realize it until later that all this writing made me believe I could do anything. Climb a mountain, Go Deep-Sea Fishing, even pass Algebra I, which I did with a respectable B-. TeenInk not only restored the confidence that I had lost, it gave me something that I was great at. And when you have a feeling like that, something that you do well, the entire world is yours for the the taking. You are unstoppable.
Thank you to the editors of TeenInk, for giving me back my confidence, for motivating me to be better, and for showing me a different side of me that I didn't even know was there.