Mary Laudon: Lost and found: My reticence, and my voice

August 23, 2018

Mary Laudon

When I first began writing articles as a teen columnist almost a year ago, I tried very hard to make them humorous. If I succeeded or not, you were the judge of that.

Those ideas ran out quickly, and in the middle of the gruesome Minnesota winter on a snow day, I hit a roadblock. With the help of Jeff Pieters, I wrote one of my favorite pieces ever, the article about my brother. And from there I never looked back.

My year of writing as a teen columnist is reflective of my life, or at least my journey through high school.

In my first few articles, much like my freshman year of high school, I was pretending to be someone I was not. I was trying very hard to come across as someone that I thought others would like. Once I put my passion into words with the story about my brother, I witnessed a network of support and solidarity that helped me feel secure and worthy, much like my second year of high school.

My next columns, about gender stereotypes and maniacal parents of athletes, are issues I have felt strongly about for a time now, but like my junior year of high school, I felt comfortable enough to express them. And now, my senior year of high school starts in a few days. At this point in both my writing and my life, I know what I stand for and I am not afraid to shout it from the rooftops or the Life section of the newspaper.

Through this year of growth, I have determined who and what is important to me. As my days living at home with my family before college next year become numbered, I have come to appreciate them more. My extracurricular activities have transformed from those deemed most prestigious on an application to those that I am most passionate about.

All of this was possible through writing. Too often, we hold ideas and stories inside ourselves. Through writing, I was able to open up, sharing my personality to complete strangers and share those stories. And to see that these complete strangers can relate to my personal stories provides me with immense hope for my future and confidence within myself.

After this last column, I will continue to stand for issues that I believe in. I will continue to tell my story and seek those with similar experiences. I will continue to advocate for those without a voice. Even though this year of writing has come to an end, this is just the start of my lifelong role as an advocate.

The hardest part of being a teen columnist was choosing which topic that I felt most strongly about and turning it into words. Through my writing I found out that I have felt passionately about social issues my entire life. But just now, I am finding my voice. Thank you for listening to my voice. Thank you for following my journey to adulthood as I grow, learn, and form my own opinions. Thank you for your kind words and support.

This opportunity has provided me with a figurative springboard into the rest of my life. I have gone through awkwardness, disappointment, success, and failure; I will continue to cycle through these emotions for the rest of my life. But the difference between a year ago and now is this: I know the importance of the written word and the impact that writing and newspapers has on society. Now that I know how to share my ideas and experiences through writing, that continuous cycle of emotions is much easier to endure.

I wish the best of luck to the next batch of teen columnists; I hope they experience the same personal growth that I did and that they have the privilege of the most dedicated and fantastic readers listening to their voices.

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