Social Media Activism: Protesting for Clout?

Amidst the intersection of social media and politics has emerged a new kind of online brand: activist influencer. From sponsored posts to paid vacations, these social media celebrities have built their online identity on social awareness and advocacy. They brand themselves as activists, show up to benefit parties and social justice panels, and amass thousands of followers in love with their “cool” lifestyle.

Because of the influence of these online activists, so many of their followers now see activism as a trendy side activity or perk-filled paid job rather than an undercurrent of life to which we are all connected and for which we are all responsible. Influencer culture combined with “woke” culture has created a social desire to get personal rewards for being an activist.

In reality, however, activism should not be part of an exchange for recognition or money. Activism and organizing should not be portrayed as a glamorous piece of one’s identity in order to increase online follower counts or to gain access to exciting opportunities. Although it’s completely valid to use social media to spread activist messaging, amplifying your work and amplifying yourself are completely different things. Leaders of our generation’s inclination toward social justice should use social media to promote activism, but not to promote themselves.

Genuine humility and passion for justice often seem to be missing from these social media platforms. Rather than sharing resources for change or information about inequality, influencers use their profiles to create a self-serving online persona. Through perfectly curated Instagram highlights of different aspects of their lives, social media activism takes personality branding to a dangerous extreme.

While the list of articles criticizing youth slacktivism is endless, it’s important to address the specific, nuanced concept of personality within this slacktivism analysis space. Personality has very little place in activism. Of course, leaders of social change often have characteristics that make them compelling and commanding, but nobody would stand on a soapbox to tell crowds of protestors about their extracurricular involvement in climate strikes. They would talk about climate justice and environmental protection itself.

Activism, after all, should not be about individual people—it should be about a community and its issues. It definitely shouldn’t be about those who are privileged enough to have the resources to join unique and interesting extracurriculars or go on “volunteer” vacations in order to weave together an identity that others want to follow. Activism should be centered on the people who are most affected by the issues these activists claim to fight for, centered on people doing the grassroots activism on the ground and not looking for fame because of it.

Because social media is such a powerful resource for youth, looking at activism through rose-colored lenses blinds viewers to why activism is so important. The reasons for activism are often uncomfortable, violent, and oppressive, making the romanticization of activist work even more harmful to how we intertwine social media and social justice.

Following dozens of young, progressive influencers enforces the idea that we should be rewarded for helping others. But in the midst of our generational discussion of acceptance and community, this seems to be the exact opposite of what activism is supposed to do. It should not only dismantle gender inequality, for example, but should bond people together through service and passion simply for the good of humanity. That is what activism is, after all—work for the good of humanity.

Nobody should be involved in activism for recognition from their peers or others online, and constantly consuming pseudo-activist content online, from blue avis for Sudan to captions about female empowerment, can often distill the content, remove the action-based rhetoric, and numb users to the usual urgency of the post.

Social media activism has its perks, from resource-sharing to connecting with other like-minded individuals, but, somewhat paradoxically, it’s overwhelmingly self-serving. Personal branding and the representation of activism as some kind of flawless, glamorous activity feed into these presentations of an idealized self. These social media activists aren’t inherently bad, however; their platforms clearly have immense possibility. But rather than showing up to a march simply for a good Instagram post, they should be just as happy to show up without taking a photo. Activism needs to be grounded in real-life work, intertwining advocacy into our lives rather than our profiles.

By Katherine Williams

Writing Wrongs

April 10th, 2018. It had been exactly two weeks since I initially received word of my position as a semi-finalist in my first ever writing contest. Needless to say, I was ecstatic—I’d abandoned all hope of keeping my expectations low at the first sign of a congratulatory statement. My friends were quick to praise me, and my teachers were even prouder. April 10th was the day I would be informed of my spot as a finalist, should I make it in. In my infinite naïvety as a new writer on the scene, I was confident that I would get it. If they liked it enough to make me a semi-finalist, and if everyone who read the piece had showered me in compliments, why shouldn’t I be a finalist? 

At 4:36 PM, though, my dreams were crushed. I couldn’t even read the email in full. I didn’t want to receive the half-hearted condolences offered to me by a copy-and-pasted rejection. 

It was my first time having my writing turned down, and I was devastated. I had put my writing out there—I’d been vulnerable—and having it rejected was something I had almost thought to be impossible after my initial success. This message, which didn’t even address me by name, made me question everything. Why wasn’t my writing good enough? What were the judges seeing and hating that my friends and teachers weren’t? Was it even worth it to keep putting my work out there, all to get denied with no explanation? Was I a bad writer? 

Telling my teachers and friends was the worst part. No one was upset at me, of course, but their pity was somehow worse than anger. Being turned away after making it to the next level felt more like losing than the half-win that it was, and so I decided that I wasn’t ready to keep submitting my work anywhere. So I didn’t. I spent the next few months writing pieces that could be submitted but I was ultimately too scared to hit send. I would reread and revise and pick a piece clean until I thought it was perfect, but would that effort really matter in the eyes of a judge or editor? I was always searching for more places to which I could send my work, and I remember bookmarking them all on my laptop, always labeled as a future goal for myself. I don’t think I could ever say exactly what compelled me to submit my first piece after the writing drought. I’d like to think that, subconsciously, I knew that the sooner I began submitting again, the sooner I would establish myself as a writer, but I think the reality of the situation is that the pain from my initial rejection had worn off. I had forgotten how badly it hurt to be turned away and I was armed with an arsenal of pieces I could submit. What did I have to lose, especially if no one had to know?

I kept my dream under wraps until that September, when my first piece was published. Finally being able to tell my teachers and friends about my success somehow negated all the shame I’d been feeling. That’s not to say my fear of rejection disappeared completely—in fact, I still opted to keep my submissions private from my family for months. I was afraid of the implications of rejection, the fact that my writing wasn’t good enough for one site or another, that I felt it safer to keep it all to myself. To me, rejection felt like it had no purpose. It was a vessel to prove how little skill I had; it suggested that I wasn’t good enough for the readers of one website or another. Furthermore, rejection made me think that if I couldn’t even make it as a writer on teen magazines or prizeless contests, could I really make it as a writer or journalist in the real world? I didn’t want to keep facing the shame of not getting published or not winning a contest because of how negatively I looked at the process of being denied. Because I viewed rejection as something that was only worth the pain of not feeling like I was good enough, every time I was turned down, it felt personal. I hated sending work in because I felt like every piece I wrote would be scrutinized over, any out of place detail would automatically send my work to the chopping block. I felt like being turned down by some faceless editor was an attack on me and my skill, and I didn’t learn that to be false until nonacceptance became second nature. 

Since getting published in September, my writing has been rejected more times than I can count. Sometimes, the emails have addressed me by name; other times, I’ve received profoundly generic automated replies. But for every rejection, there has been acceptance. I’ve made bigger strides with my writing than I could have ever imagined, and it’s all because I’ve come to abandon my fear of being turned away. Joining Lithium, being published in print, and seeing my work on a variety of websites has allowed me to see the flipside of rejection. I now know that no rejection is ever personal—just because one magazine doesn’t want to publish my work doesn’t mean another one will do the same thing. I am not a bad writer for getting rejected, either. I have the ability to learn from my faults and continue to improve the way I write. Rejection is valuable—it is the only tool a writer will always have to reflect on. 

Obviously, I’m still learning how to get better at my craft. There’s no magical way to avoid rejection, and there’s also no magical way to become a great writer automatically. The thing that I’ve kept in mind over the past few months is a piece of advice my dad gave me. Over dinner, he said that the best thing I can do in life is take a risk and try and be someone. I don’t ever want to miss out on a writing opportunity because I was afraid of being rejected. I could get a million emails that begin with “we regret to inform you” and be okay with it because I could still say I put myself out there. It would be okay that my writing wasn’t what they were looking for. Maybe these million publications aren’t looking for a writer like me, but the next million could be. Being able to say I sent in my art and had it considered, even by one person, is what gives me purpose as an artist; I’ll always get to live with the idea that scattered across the internet are pieces of myself, to be read and pondered over by readers for far beyond the physical existence of myself, all because I had the heart to take a chance.

By Sophia Moore
Illustration by Vero Romero for Refinery29

What Being Transgender Truly Means During Pride

Illustration by Alyssa Etoile for Rookie Magazine

I don’t really celebrate Pride Month. I mean, sure, I go to the festivals. I tweet about LGBTQ topics; I even change my profile picture to a transgender flag. Yet it doesn’t really feel like a celebration—I don’t feel pride for my identity, but fear and hopelessness. 

Pride Month is a time when LGBT people can be their most authentic selves—but that isn’t the case for me, because I’m still scared of my identity and how it’s viewed by the world. This time last year, the people leading London Pride voiced that they see transgender people as predators and monsters. They waved flags and raised signs, declaring that the “T SHOULD BE DROPPED FROM LGB.” Nobody seemed to notice, though; London Pride went on as usual. One of the most oppressed identities is being rejected from a community which should be the most accepting. 

This seems to be a regular occurrence for pride season, as people who aren’t white cis gays are rejected and isolated for not fitting the queer standard. The death rate for black trans women is 1 in 12—such an incomparable number, one that should evoke outrage—yet it often gets overlooked.

The queerest of spaces is not exempt from this, either. In RuPaul’s Drag Race, a show constantly praised for its inclusivity, there exists constant debate on whether trans drag queens can be let on the show, and whether trans slurs can be used by cis gay people—the latter usually resulting in the expression of incredibly transphobic comments, clumsily assuaged with the declaration that it was “a joke.” 

To give credit where credit is due, Drag Race has been a wonderful platform for trans women to express their voice. But I can’t forget the time they stopped a trans woman from taking her hormones, or when they joked about “females or shemales.” Most people seem to forget about all of this, or they choose to ignore it—but I and so many other trans people can’t enjoy the luxury of forgetting. This is mirrored in a lot of queer spaces, especially pride events: trans people’s issues are pushed under the rug in favor of cis people’s feelings. An example of this is when artists with questionable views on trans people, like Cardi B, are invited to perform at pride events or are included in pride playlists. 

Even within the trans community—which one would expect to be a safe space—certain issues and experiences are ignored. People who don’t identify within the gender binary are isolated and ridiculed for not being “really trans.” Some are angry at the existence of other trans people, whereas others are angry at how some binary trans people act and present themselves—some would say they are enforcing gender stereotypes by dressing in a cis-normative manner. Others would argue that trans men who dress feminine aren’t really trans, as they aren’t trying to pass as male. 

It doesn’t help that mainstream media also pines on these petty issues, with articles being made about how the new Snapchat filter is “transphobic” and why Santa should be gender neutral. This not only completely ridicules trans issues, but gives us a bad image, making our everyday lives more exasperating and challenging. It trivializes us. In one instance, when I introduced myself as a trans man to a girl, she instantly asked me if that meant I was trans-racial. This is a result of mainstream media’s perpetuation of insignificant—and wrong—stereotypes, othering us and invalidating our struggle. Trans folk will also most likely internalize what others say and see themselves as others do: a joke. Particularly within British media, news outlets are more likely to report on trans people murdering others in prison and how trans people in restrooms make others feel uncomfortable, instead of talking about trans folk’s high death rate due to hate crimes. It’s hard not to feel like we’re getting nowhere.

Pride Month is a celebration of how far we’ve come. For trans people, though, it feels like a long way ahead. Tolerance, let alone acceptance, isn’t likely to occur within a society that continues to ignore the trans community, and pride just feels like a reminder of this. 

By Ethan James, as told to Andrea Panaligan

Ginger Takes New York

This is Ginger Burlew, and she’s represented by one of the most well-known modeling agencies: Wilhelmina. Oh, and she’s the youngest member of their Sports & Fitness division.

When I met Ginger, she was looking to update her portfolio and hit the “refresh” button on her aesthetic. So before leaping into summer movie nights with friends and pool hang-outs, Ginger and I collaborated on this story to showcase her growth not only as a young woman, but as an athlete.

Since she’s always loved playing sports, I thought it would be fun to explore different movements and emotions associated with sports through vibrant colors, summer fashion, and of course, teen spirit!

As Ginger’s junior year comes to a close, she’s narrowing down her college list; while shooting, she candidly spoke to me and the photographer, Nick Steever, about looking forward to the new challenges ahead and where she’s planning to be by the time she graduates. At this point, Ginger and her mom have come to an agreement that she’ll keep focusing on her modeling career in college. “It made me realize that I should probably choose a school in New York so that I can still work and do more projects like this.”

When I glanced over at her mom for parental affirmation, she proudly said, “Yes! She’s already decided this is what she wants to do. Ginger is so smart and she’s been working in this business for a few years now, so why not? It makes her happy.”

Photos by Nicholas Steever
Styled by Sharon Frances
Makeup and Hair by Clelia Bergonzoli
Modeled by Ginger Burlew of Wilhelmina Models

Having the Wrong Eating Disorder

Watching To the Bone felt horrible. My body felt cold, my stomach felt a bit nauseous, and I constantly felt the need to touch my arms, the area of skin and fat that meets my side. Though I’ve never been anorexic, I have suffered from bulimia in the past and still struggle with recovery, as it is a difficult and nonlinear process. So To the Bone’s portrayal of anorexia—paired with several relatable, funny, love-filled characters and plot lines—made for an uncomfortable watch.

Viewing films and TV shows that discuss anorexia isn’t triggering for me in the way that it might be for someone who has actually dealt with anorexia, but it does create a different sense of guilt. When I look at mainstream film and television, there’s very little representation of bulimia for people like me to watch, learn from, and relate to. It makes me feel like my experience is invalid and incorrect, outside of what is normal and accepted.

Anorexia is not a catch-all narrative for eating disorder, despite the popularity of shows like To The Bone and Skins or restrictive eating encouragement in pop culture. Aside from single episodes on Gossip Girl and Pretty Little Liars where Blair Waldorf and Hanna Marin respectively are shown to have bulimia, mainstream media aimed at teenagers fails to include bulimia as a central focus.

Just this imbalance in representation was enough for me to think that I didn’t have the right kind of eating disorder. I hated my body’s need to overeat not only because of my bulimic mentality, but also because I saw young anorexic girls on Instagram pages and TV shows and thought, “Why can’t I just stop eating?”

The desperation and guilt created from this belief in my head pushed me further into cycles of bulimia. I hated my own illness—film and TV made it seem as though people would judge me not for having an eating disorder, but for having bulimia. I felt anxious, constantly panicked about what I looked like and how if I could just stop eating, then I would be happy. I wanted to not eat because I wished I was anorexic, but I couldn’t because I was bulimic. I existed with crippling self-hatred and nothing to turn to for help.

Criticisms of To The Bone harped on how this “familiar narrative” of anorexia recovery was outdated and insensitive. But there’s no familiar narrative for bulimics looking for representation in media. There’s no familiar narrative that someone with bulimia could turn to in order to feel recognized, noticed, validated.

Depiction of bulimia is infinitely more “difficult,” obviously. After all, bulimia isn’t as easy to romanticize as anorexia. It’s easy to have a character not eat—you just don’t show them eating and make them extremely skinny. But how do you portray bulimia? How do you portray purging? This collective idea of anorexia as a disease affecting beautiful, tortured young women doesn’t quite apply to bulimia, which is seen as far more disgusting. The lack of acceptance of bulimia in popular culture—the constant and singular narrative of young, skinny teenage girls eating a hundred calories a day or less—made me feel even more guilty about being bulimic.

With my guilt also came frustration at how the portrayal of eating disorders interact with the portrayal of women. Female characters are often created to be passive and fragile, powerless and completely happy with it. While fictional anorexic women can be depicted as passive because of the inaction (not eating) associated with the illness, bulimia stands in direct opposition to traditional views of women. The extremely aggressive actions of purging and binging constitute an entirely different kind of eating disorder—an active, hostile, and violent one, entirely anti-feminine. Not only did I feel a sense of self-loathing because of my inability to stop eating, but also because of how I understood my identity as a woman. 

Seeing so many movies and TV shows about anorexia—their portrayal of emaciated yet beautiful young women—made me hate my eating disorder even more. I didn’t feel like I was skinny enough, and I tried to force myself to “switch” to anorexia because I thought that if I was going to have an eating disorder, I might as well have the better one. I specifically hated my bulimia, not my eating disorder.

Media companies certainly grapple with eating disorder portrayals to begin with, trying to balance the line between accurate and triggering plots. Understanding the boundaries of representation requires uncomfortable dialogue between those affected by bulimia and the directors, producers, and screenwriters in the media industry. But that discomfort doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be any representation at all. The fact that there are so many programs about anorexia and so few about bulimia tells those struggling with and recovering from bulimia that their eating disorder is disgusting, unworthy of attention, and a secret of which to be ashamed. Tactful, complex, and honest depictions of bulimia and recovery are absolutely necessary to support those struggling with bulimia and make us feel seen.

As mental health becomes more of a mainstream discussion, eating disorders need to take up space in that discussion. That includes all kinds of eating disorders, from anorexia to bulimia to binge-eating disorder to orthorexia (an obsession with healthy eating), with the goal of making mental health discussion more inclusive not just to individuals, but to the illnesses themselves. With more critical reflection on how we frame mental illness and what we don’t like to discuss, those struggling with underrepresentation may finally feel comfortable with honesty, an essential brick of the structure of recovery.

By Katherine Williams
Collage by Alyssa Kissoondath

A Female Presidency Enforces Patriarchy

In response to a Fox News anchor questioning her statement that women should have a seat at the political table, 2020 hopeful Kirsten Gilibrand explained, “It’s not meant to be exclusionary, it’s meant to be inclusionary… We just want to add a couple chairs for the rest of us.”

With half a dozen women running for the presidency, female representation in American government has become an increasingly mainstream discussion. Though the importance of representation itself is relatively agreed upon, the language we use to describe representation and how it ties into feminist philosophy holds far-reaching implications garnering much less discussion.

What does it mean when Gilibrand says, “We just want to add a couple chairs”? What does it mean when female power means sitting at the table of patriarchal politics?

That’s the problem with reform feminism. Representation is not revolution, and a female presidency does not absolve our political systems of misogyny and oppression. It merely situates a woman in control of that system.

The electoral system, the White House, and government itself were all created by men. And it’s incredibly frustrating that we must obey the rules of the route to representation in order to obtain representation itself. There is no other way at this point. We must play into electoral politics, tone down revolution rhetoric, and win the hearts of a sexist America in order to see a female president. Resisting these systems is essentially just refusing to elect a female president until our systems change, but our systems definitely will not change so long as they are controlled by men.

Pulling up a chair to the political table validates the table itself. Pulling up a chair tells us that feminism’s success is measured by the success of women in occupying and controlling the systems built by men. Pulling up a chair defines feminism as the placement of women in traditionally male positions of power, which validates those positions of power as desirable and just.

The truth is, the position of the presidency is a position of sexism, a manifestation of misogynistic currents that underscore American government. The presidency represents executive control of female choices and the laws that contribute to discrimination against women. Ultimately, it is a male institution, not just an individual male president, that maintains misogyny in politics. And the oppression of women by historically male presidents taints the Oval Office with colors of exploitation and injustice. Electing a female president changes only the occupant, not the institution.

If the goal of feminism is to dismantle patriarchy and empower women, viewing a female presidency as a feminist victory does the exact opposite. It validates patriarchal political systems and restricts female empowerment to the boundaries of those systems. It validates the presidency—the American epitome of male supremacy—as something to be blindly desired, as if a female president intrinsically dismantles the history and future of political oppression.

Do we bend the morals of feminism in order to gain representation? Or is this too wrong to justify? Do we strive for the presidency, or do we condemn the values upon which it is founded?

Of course, this warning does not necessarily advocate for the complete abolition of politics or posit that women can never be president because it would be anti-feminist. Seeing a woman as president is extremely valuable, and representation gives women a sense of empowerment.

But is it the right kind of empowerment? It is the right kind of empowerment to tell women that we must occupy the positions of patriarchy in order to fulfill the goals of feminism? Doesn’t that seem like a paradox, and doesn’t that seem wrong?

We must be wary of our blind desire for female-controlled political systems. “Female-controlled” and “political systems” are, as of right now, oxymorons, and we continue to act as though a female-controlled political system entails a different brand of politics. Aside from the fact that women can and do support oppressive and patriarchal systems for their own benefit, a female-controlled political system makes women both the oppressor and the oppressed. Wanting to see a woman as president essentially restricts feminism to what is real right now, to the systems we see in front of us, all systems that exist to oppress women. We must take a step back and ask—do we genuinely want female-controlled American politics? Do we genuinely want to place women in existing political positions and support the values of those positions?

Glorifying a female presidency uses a patriarchal ruler to measure feminism’s success. It may be valuable to our understanding of what is possible for women in America, but it also chains us to the systems we are trying to dismantle. And of course, the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house, as Audre Lorde warned in her 1979 speech about intersectional feminism. We cannot use the systems of patriarchal politics in order to dismantle patriarchal politics; that will only hurt us in the long run. Anti-political, anarchist rhetoric is not popular, and it may not even be the best way to achieve an abundant feminism in this country—frankly, not many people have an answer as to how feminism should proceed. But right now, the master’s house is government, and the master’s tool, in this case, is the election of a female president.

Reform versus revolution is a complicated and abstract debate, and it can seem fruitless in the face of unending misogyny and overwhelmingly sexist systems, but we must at least attempt to discuss what feminism really is and how our tangible decisions affect our intangible, philosophical foundation. Many women want to vote for a female president in 2020, but we all must consider what that woman will do once president to not only uphold but advance, strengthen, and empower the seeds of feminism in politics.

This is, in one way, a lose-lose situation. But if we take this opportunity to have honest, accountable discussions about feminism and the moral implications of female politicians, a female president may very well be the seed of a revolution.

By Katherine Williams
Collage by Alyssa Kissoondath

On Moving to the Other Side of the World—Alone.

It’s November. My seventh school year as a teacher is ending and I’m still in my home country, Argentina. I remember counting the days until I could finally leave my city and see the world when I was a teenager. I remember my poster of London: its black cab, double-decker bus, and the Big Ben. I used to tell my friends one day I’d move to England and lead an exciting life surrounded by beauty and chaos. I’d leave my suffocating city and finally feel uncomfortable, challenged, inspired. I was sixteen and already weary of life, but I never despaired because I had a plan and I would stick to it. And in the meantime, I would write about my perfect future life, begging it would come true somehow.
It’s November. I’m looking for flights and my hand is shaking. I’m afraid of making the wrong decision, of drifting too far from my comfort zone, of willingly putting myself in an unbearably stressful situation. For a moment, I imagine myself postponing this decision, living with my parents until I’m 27, working at the same school for another year. I’d feel safe, at ease, protected. I’d be bored to death. I enter my credit card details and buy a plane ticket. Now it’s real—I’m leaving, and there’s no turning back.
It’s March, and I’ve just said goodbye to my mother for the last time and I’m wondering if there’s a way to turn back and stop this madness. What am I doing? Why am I leaving everyone I love? I show my boarding pass and my passport. Why am I willingly making the decision to be alone in an unknown country? I start walking toward the plane. Why did I leave my nice, steady job? Just to experience new things and take up a few courses so I could become a better writer? The flight attendant asks me to fasten my seatbelt. Is becoming a better writer really necessary? Do I really need to do such a dramatic thing to get inspiration? The plane is taking off. What have I done?
It’s been twelve hours since I arrived in London. I’m lonely and vulnerable. I feel like something bad could happen at any time. I edit a picture I took earlier and write a caption saying London seems anachronic so far; it doesn’t belong entirely to the past, the present, or the future. It definitely doesn’t feel like my present, but it is. This is my present, my life. I post the picture on Instagram and get a few comments saying my words are inspiring. Well, this is new. Does this belong to my present too?
It’s been a week since I last saw the school where I worked for seven years. Now I don’t have a job and I don’t know what I’m going to do. I don’t even know who I am, away from everything I know. I look out the window while I go to Central London by bus. I write a short text explaining how I’m trying to be patient with myself. I post it on Instagram and check the statistics an hour later: nine people have saved it. No one saved my posts when I was at home. The truth is, I wouldn’t have been able to write something like this in Argentina, so maybe it’s a good thing I’m here. Maybe figuring out who I am will actually inspire me.
It’s been two weeks since my plane took off, and I’ve finally found a house that I like. I unpack all my belongings and look out the window. The city is changing and the sky has more colors than I can count. And so far everything’s been fine, even when it wasn’t. I remember the lyrics from a song by Spinetta, a songwriter from my country: “Tengo tiempo para saber si lo que sueño concluye en algo.” I have time to find out if my dreams will turn into something. I’ve always had big plans, and now I have an exciting future ahead of me. Maybe the perfect life I wrote about is finally coming true. Granted, I know it won’t necessarily be flawless; I know at some point I might feel frustrated and ask myself why I went ahead with all this. But all the while, I’ll also grow and learn. I’ll learn that craving uneasiness was a privilege and I’ll miss my old quiet life, but I’ll also enjoy the colourful turmoil. And I’ll never be bored again and I’ll always feel challenged. Maybe I’ll become a better writer; maybe I’ll be inspired. The future is still unclear, but I’m certain I made the right call.

By Juana Sagarduy
Photo from Getty Images