There is nothing that keeps me awake at night more than words. Because of them, I toss and turn ceaselessly, hoping not to disturb my mom as she snores softly beside me. I try to stop the words from flashing through my mind as they build phrases then sentences then paragraphs until, finally, I give in. The words don’t stop unless they become something I can’t wait to put on paper.
“I’ll write this in my next article,” I think to myself. “Maybe, just maybe, I can make a difference.”
And that’s what I can do with words. Every day I walk into my journalism class, though I am exhausted by the strings of words that kept me awake the night before, I choose to use them for good. Some people find freedom speeding down the highway at midnight, but I find freedom in my writing. What I cannot say, I know I can write. I use that freedom not only to express my innermost thoughts but to try and move the people in my community to make a difference in their lives and in the lives of others.
Whether I’m writing about teenage homelessness in South Florida or the endless bloodshed in Syria, I find great satisfaction in keeping the students of my school and the local community educated about issues going on in the world. Creating conversation excites me. It moves me to write even more, seeking to find local stories in the globality of my writing and, vice versa, scavenging ways to make my local stories more global.
I spend most nights sitting in front of my computer screen, fussing over comma splices and fragmented sentences because I want my message to come across eloquently; I work hard so that my readers can indulge sentence after sentence without interruption as I immerse them across seas and into the battlefields where the greatest violations of human rights occur. Then I shift them back into reality, showing them that there is something that can be done, something that they, themselves, can do.
And so, as my mom sleeps quietly beside me, I rise from our bed and pick up my laptop. I sit in the bathtub so that the click-clack of the keys do not wake her and I turn down the harsh glare of the brightness to a soft glow. I allow my thoughts to take hold of my fingers and I type away into the night where the world unfolds before me, beckoning to be put in words.