By Rebecca Thomas
NEW YORK -- This week, I asked a 22-year-old colleague/fellow coven member what she most frequently found herself contemplating when she was younger. After explaining that she was a rather quirky kid, she said "getting older." "I wondered what I'd be like when I was 18, 25. ... "
Far from being quirky, her response sounded all-too familiar. In fact, it was something like a catchy chorus that played on repeat this past Wednesday at Spring Studios, where I spent a consciousness-expanding late afternoon with 35 bright middle-schoolers from around the city: the Beacon Community Center in Jamaica, Queens; P.S. 161 and the Polo Grounds Housing Community in Harlem; and East Side Middle School on Manhattan's Upper East Side.
The occasion was Story Summit, a gathering hosted by Lit World and Table of Contents to share with young girls the benefits of storytelling. Specifically, the importance of telling your own story.
As I chatted with girls like Destiny, who told me she kept busy by joining ALL the clubs at school or budding artist Diya or Zara, who was already at work on her first novel, I realized how much the business of making ourselves begins in 6th, 7th, 8th grade. In celebration of International #DayOfTheGirl (Sunday, Oct. 11), I decided to reproduce some of the key questions we spent time carefully turning over.
Whether you're 13 or 30, it's never too late to begin the work of writing a bestseller ... about you.
When I Was Younger, I Wondered A Lot About...Camilo Fuentealba
Some variation on "What I would be when I grew up" turned up in my own event notebook and many others.
But Now I Wonder About ...Camilo Fuentealba
The 10 editors-turned-guest teachers from places like Vogue, Us Weekly, Refinery 29 and, of course, MTV, probably had different concerns than our tween and teen guests, but a common thread was finding your place in the world. What Kylie Jenner was up to on her new app didn't really come up; no shade -- just facts.
My Friends Would Describe Me As ...Camilo Fuentealba
Your squad is the ultimate mirror. And if how you see yourself feels oceans apart from how they see you, that's something worth considering. Someone -- maybe you -- is selling You short.
These 3 People Inspire Me ...Matthew Horwood/Getty
My personal inspo list has long been heavy on poets and authors like Toni Morrison (above). Perhaps it's no wonder I now jot down "writer" in the blank space for occupation on my IRS forms. The people who move you can often be a clue about what kind of work you'll do in the world.
I Dream Of Becoming A ...Camilo Fuentealba
Well, the possibilities should feel endless.
I Will Change The World By ...Pacific Press/Getty
Although the girls I met from the East Side School were big fans of Malala Yousafzai, you don't have to be bulletproof or a Nobel Prize winner, for that matter, to take on changing the world. Just brave.
For more on how you can join the virtual Story Summit in honor of International Day of the Girl on October 11, head over to Lit World's blog and use the hashtags #HerStory and #DayOfTheGirl.