Sometimes, the most amazing things are created during the most imperfect times. When I launched Teen Talk Hotline, I was going through a very hard time. At just 15 years old, I was being harassed and bullied at school. The harassment became so bad that there were times when I didn’t even want to get out of bed because of the way my classmates were treating me.
My classmates would bully me because of my sexuality and my mannerisms, and the worst part was that this harassment was completely unprovoked. One day, I had to make a presentation in front of those very peers that made me feel so unwanted. Despite how I felt, I managed to go to school that day. During my presentation, which was a speech about how kindness can benefit others, those classmates started to laugh and make fun of the way I was presenting my speech. It made me depressed and my anxiety level soared.
On another occasion, I was walking through my school hallway alone when two high schoolers walked past me calling me a faggot. I had decided to wear a v-neck that day, along with my favorite boots. All I was doing was expressing myself in my favorite outfit, but I got put down for wearing it. I never wore that outfit to school again, because I was afraid that something would have been said if I did.
Hateful words and actions from others really do have an effect on people. I felt like I didn’t even matter to anyone.
The hateful words and actions from others really do have an effect on people. I felt like I didn’t even matter to anyone. I felt degraded as a human, not being welcomed by my peers at a place that claims to be safe for every child. It hurt because, as only a freshman, I was not looking forward to the next four years.
One day during that period last year I thought of turning the pain that I felt into something that would help others feel like they were not alone. I was inspired by other teenagers that start their own nonprofit organizations, so I thought to myself “Why not start my own out of the conflict I went through?” This is when I decided to channel my pain and create Teen Talk Hotline – a blogging platform where young people can make their voices heard. Sometimes they write about serious things, and sometimes they write about music, movies, pop culture, or fashion. The topic is less important than the act of speaking up and speaking out.
Our motto is “Our voices will be heard to make a positive difference,” and it has an important meaning to me. I wanted to create something out of my own pain to help others get empowered and be inspired to stand up and use their voices for good. When I started the site, I felt as if I had no voice, but Teen Talk Hotline changed that. I would use Teen Talk Hotline as a way to escape the pain I felt and to help others avoid the way I felt.
Still today, I rely on my organization to help me get through every bump in my way. I created this platform not only for myself, but for so many others. There are so many people out there that are being bullied or harassed, who are ashamed of themselves, and who are being silenced with no sense of hope or help available to them. As of 2016, more than one out of every five students have reported being bullied and LGBT+ students are twice as likely to be bullied in school.
I was told so many times to worry about “typical teenage stuff,” but deep down I knew how much this was affecting me personally, and I wanted to make sure that all of the other kids that this is happening to every single day had the outlet I wish I had.
Teen Talk Hotline is a developing platform for others to share what is on their mind to make a positive difference without being silenced by cruelty and hatred, and doesn’t stop there! We are also used to give help to those who are being bullied and harassed. If you want to know more, or if you need someone to talk to please visit teentalkhotline.org to learn more, submit a blog, or reach out for support on our forum.