2014 has been a year of wondrous change, of learning to see the possibility in every opportunity and the adventure in every mundane task. 2014 presented various moments for me to be pushed out of my comfort zone - from attending the 2014 Disney Dreamers Academy to the scary realization of beginning my own media company, She Speaks Media Enterprises. However, this would have never been possible if I didn't begin my first adventure: blogging with The Huffington Post.
I'm not going to lie: Before I began writing for HuffPost Teen, I had a negative perception of blogging, and bloggers in general. Instead of viewing them as intelligent, capable artists, I viewed them as 20-something college dropouts mindlessly ranting on a laptop, complete with pajama attire and a 5:00 shadow. I didn't understand how a new album release would be considered valuable entertainment news, or why an interview with a boy band would be an investment for a publication. To be honest, my lack of experience created an unreasonable and irrational judgment about the power of blogging.
My first article for HuffPost Teen was published on November 20, 2013, where I wrote about how my feelings of the Christmas season changed over time. Unlike most posts, where I spend days researching statistics and analytics for accuracy and precision, this was a post where I wrote straight from my heart, unfolding the apparent emptiness that I constantly felt towards the holiday season. When I received the automated email revealing that my article was chosen for publication, I immediately rejoiced. In that moment, my thoughts, feelings and emotions were given a safe place to thrive, and hopefully inspire someone else.
As I began contributing for The Huffington Post in this ever-too-swift year, I found myself changing more and more. Writing became therapeutic, my buoy when the oceans of life went over my head. From a fun article on my first airplane ride, to practical posts like how to make a difference during the holiday season, to even more serious posts like the need to stop glamorizing cancer or the seriousness of the feminist movement, one thing was undeniable: The Huffington Post was beginning to change my entire world.
It's been over a year now since my first article was posted, and while many others have been posted, the initial feeling of excitement and ecstasy hasn't left me, nor do I ever intend it to. Writing with The Huffington Post has not just revolutionized my view of blogging and the complex platform it brings to share your voice with a multitude of listeners; it opened my eyes to a dynamic community of teen voices from around the world. My life is now enriched by getting to know some of the amazing bloggers, that although might not live the same type of lifestyle as me, share the same stresses, fangirl over the same things and hold the same ambitions.
Because of The Huffington Post, I learned that every story has worth. Every story, earth-shattering or not, deserves to be told. Without the small stories, how would someone understand the big stories? My eyes were opened to the possibility of using my experiences to aid (or perhaps entertain) the next generation of leaders. My interests expanded -- from just being a girl with a story about Christmas to a girl finding the story in everything.
I could go on for days about the different ways that The Huffington Post has opened my eyes and rocked my world, but the end point is: you never know what you'll get out of life until you try it. The Huffington Post opened my eyes to a horizon of new opportunities, of the benefits of being brave and the power of using your God-given voice.
2014 was pretty great, but I anticipate another year of telling stories, walking in the direction of my dreams and defying the comfort zones associated with the death of a dream. The shy, silent girl I once was is in the past, preparing me for the opportunity to speak, to be heard and to stand up for causes greater than my own.
Let's do this, 2015.