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YallWest Teen Writing Contest Entry

By @melissaglover

I’m Afraid of the World

I’ve been afraid of the world my whole life. It’s not an agoraphobic thing. It’s a ‘the world is a terrible place’ thing. The earth is beautiful and it should be protected, but the humans on Earth…maybe not so much. I have slowly come to realize that humans have destroyed the natural beauty of the world. The Amazon Rainforest is being killed because everyone wants Amazon Prime. It seems sick, but when does anyone look away from their phone to look at the decaying world around them? Kids are scared to go to school in fear of being murdered. Women are developing an ideology that teaches them that if they get raped, it’s their fault. Politicians believe global warming is a hoax. People are claiming that racism doesn’t exist. Adults are ignoring the roar coming from the generations of children who are tired of seeing their world go to hell. I’m tired of seeing my world go to hell. I used to be able to quietly sit by and let people trample over what I believed in. That was my story, but I wanted a different one.

My first year of high school was the same year Donald Trump was elected President of the United States. The topic was polarizing for my school. Living in Southern California, I was introduced to a mostly liberal society. However, there were many Republicans that also voiced their opinions. Once President Trump was elected, debates and arguments ran amuck on campus. Most weren’t bad, but there were times that people would threaten violence or harm against those who did not stand with certain policies. It went from being a healthy conversation to a disheveled uproar. Through all this chaos, one thing did emerge. I learned that I didn’t have to be quiet, nor did I need to be ill-mannered. I just needed to say what I stood for in a civil way. It was clear to see that when you could have healthy conversations, change and understanding could be made. This was the first step in realizing that I could change my story. A difference could be made.

Of course 2016 was rough and no one thought it could get worse, but here we are in 2018. The first few months of 2018 have been some of the worst months I have had to encountered. It’s not because of problems in my personal life, but rather because of problems in our nation. On February 14, 2018, 17 people were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Many people realized this shooting happened and acknowledged it for a week before tossing it to the side like many did after the 32 were killed at Virginia Tech, the 26 students and teachers massacred at Sandy Hook Elementary, the 9 at Umpqua University, and those who died in numerous other school shootings. There were plenty of people, mostly adults, who forgot about the shooting soon after it happened. However, there was one group of people who never gave up hope on remembering the impact of that day. Teens gathered all around the nation on March 14 to walk out of class at 10:00 A.M. and remember those who lost their lives due to gun violence. I was one of those students who walked on. February 14 is a day that I will never forget. As soon as the walkout began to go into its planning stages, I was lucky enough to join in on planning one for my school. I was lucky enough to stand up with thousands of other students for what we believed in. Getting to voice how I felt was such a relief. I had gotten so tired of people doubting me and saying that teens would never be able to make an impact on gun control. We are not ‘mushy-headed teens’. We are the ones who have made different states understand that comprehensive gun control legislation needs to come to fruition. Allowing myself to break free from the chains of doubt holding me back as opened the door to so many new things.

A change in my story is what I needed. Sitting back and watching the world burn did nothing. Standing up for what I believed in and joining in with the choir of thousands of other teens has taught me that I don’t have to be scared of standing up. I don’t have to be scared that people won’t listen. My story is something I can continue writing as long as my heart desires. I am scared of the world, but I am not scared of changing the world.

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