Exactly one year ago today on May 30, 2013, I published my first post for HuffPost Teen.
The year following it has been an absolutely magical journey.
It's always hard to put into words and explain how something has inexplicably changed your life and shifted your mountains, but that is what HuffPost Teen has done for me. HPT has allowed me to share my thoughts with the world, create discussions about things that really matter to me, and broaden my writing into different forms and styles. For example, I told my story in pieces like "Goodbye to 16" and imparted advice in a few of my school-related How-To's. I talked politics in "The Backwardness of ENDA Opposition" and argued why teen voices are important and worthwhile.
HPT has given me a safe haven where I can talk about things that truly matter to me, and it's a place where I feel my voice not only belongs, but matters. It's hard to find a community that values teenage voices and creates a place that fosters communication and thought specifically geared towards upcoming adults, but that's exactly what HuffPost Teen is for me.
Furthermore, HPT has opened my horizons and given me so many wonderful experiences.
In the last year, Taylor Swift read and tweeted about my piece, "Why I Dedicate My Life to Childhood Cancer." As a HUGE Swiftie, I just about died when Taylor called me a "true inspiration," but it doesn't escape me that this would never have happened if HPT hadn't given me the opportunity to share my dreams with the rest of the world. In the aftermath of Taylor's tweet, doctors, parents of children with cancer, other teens, and even Ronan's parents themselves reached out to me on Twitter, opening discussions that forever rocked my world. People told me how my story inspired them and how wonderful it was to see drive and passion in a young person. Honestly? All I've ever wanted to do with my writing was reach other people, inspire them, and make a change. HPT allowed me to do that.
In the last year, my writing opportunities expanded. For example, I was recently asked to write a piece for Education Week Teacher and the Center for Teaching Quality. I wrote about how teachers, while they're often under-valued, are the most inspiring and life-changing people I've ever met.
In the last year, I've communicated with so many other people and especially teens across the nation and across the world, and I think that this is perhaps the best gift HPT has given me. I've met other teens who are also passionate about their dreams. I've talked to teens who called me a "role model" and people who can't wait to see what I do when I grow up.
HuffPost Teen has given me a community of bloggers full of people I wish I could meet in real life. They are teens who are a lot like me, which I can't find just anywhere. They are teens who are driven and passionate, who aren't afraid to talk about what really matter to them, who have a penchant for writing and Twitter, who fangirl with me, who help me in my time of need. They've helped me open up and be the person I really am, and they take my quirks in stride. We care for and about each other and celebrate each other's victories, no matter how minute. They're people who get me, and I love that. HuffPost Teen has given me the room I need to grow and thrive.
So in light of my extreme thanks to HPT, I went around and asked a few of my HPT friends to tell me, in 140 characters or less (or thereabouts), why they love HPT and how it's changed their lives.
Blogging has not only made me write more but also exposed me to a community of ambitious, interesting teens. The bloggers are beyond unique.
-- Morgan Levy
Being a HP teen has given me a voice. I'm so glad to have an outlet to share my political and cultural thoughts. Thanks HP Teen!
-- Garrett deGraffenreid
Blogging for HPT has improved my writing skills and, more importantly, helped me to create amazing, dependable friendships that I cherish.
-- Jackson Barnett
HuffPost Teen has helped mold me into a more informed and articulate person. Being able to speak clearly about how I feel is so important!
-- Allison Lantagne
HuffPost Teen has given me a multitude of friends, inspirations, and ideas. It has expanded my journalistic prospects, as well as giving me a place to call home in an ever-dizzying media world.
-- Kami Baker
HuffPost Teen encourages, values, and responds to teenage voices with respect. And emojis. I'm grateful for the way we celebrate ideas that might otherwise be ignored, overlooked or disparaged.
-- Celeste Yim
Huffington Post has given me the confidence in pursuing my dreams of writing professionally. They showed how much my true potential is.
-- Erin Whitten
Being a HPT blogger has taught me being ambitious & courageous are attributes within yourself that shouldn't be put down, but celebrated.
-- Haley Pereyo
Huffington Post has helped me realize that what I say does matter, and that I truly am capable of making things happen with my words.
-- Camryn Garrett
HuffPost Teen has given me the opportunity to share my thought and proven to me that my writing matters, that other people care about what I have to say. Blogging for HPT boosted my passion for and commitment to writing.
-- Tara Subramaniam
Huffington Post, even though I have not been able to blog yet, has given me an incredibly intelligent group of friends that I can talk to no matter what. Y'all are seriously some of the first people I talk to if I have an issue.
-- Jillian Kinder
On behalf of myself and my HuffPost Teen blogging friends, thank you. Here's to more laughs, jokes, ideas, and memories to come.