I remember when I first started in journalism.

I was fifteen years old and nervous beyond belief. I recorded scratchy-voiced interviews on the pink flip phone I begged my parents for. My friends and I made the two-hour trek to Los Angeles each day to make it to each event, burning the midnight oil to finish our AP homework, plan the next club meeting, and study. It wasn’t uncommon to be the youngest person on the carpet – something that humbled me and sparked an unquenchable passion to empower the next generation of journalists.

Five years later, my journey has been anything but linear. I’ve taken a gap year off university, changed my major twice, and moved from Southern California to Houston, Texas. I’ve made mistakes, and I’ve taken detours on my journey. Yet, the one thing that has remained, in the midst of every trial and transition, is an unflinching desire to share stories, to use words as a powerful force for connecting communities.

My point is, that while I’m not where I want to be just yet, it doesn’t stop me from honoring my journey and having a profound gratitude for what’s in front of me. I’m twenty years old now, and I’m so thankful for the amount of growth that the last five years have brought me. I can’t wait to see what’s next in store, whether it’s tomorrow or ten years from now.

Flowers only blossom because of their ability to remain firmly rooted to the substance that sustains them. In a world that fights for recognition and achievements, the ability to look back at your journey with a content smile and a heartfelt optimism to make tomorrow better is what encourages continual growth. 

To the next fifteen-year-old girl whose words will change the world, this is for you.

Go get ’em.