The contrary is also true. Many people find writing cathartic, a means of expressing emotions that might otherwise remain bottled up.
Recently, I had the privilege of being part of a panel judging a high school essay contest. In more than a hundred different essays, I spotted a recurring theme. Each essayist at some point felt like an outsider. It didn’t matter if the writer was a football player, cheerleader, scholar, introvert, or video game enthusiast.
More than just a normal rite of adolescent passage that feeling of being a misfit impacts our growth or stagnation.
I would bet a fifth of the entrants didn’t bother having anyone look at their work, but entered secretly. It seemed as though some were not in the contest to win but to be heard.
Sadly, we judges will never know the writers. Their names were replaced with numbers to maintain anonymity and fairness. Though unable to respond directly to the essayists, we can all reach out to the teens in our lives.
Consider writing to a teen and encouraging him to write a few lines back about what’s going on in his life. Maybe the exercise alone will brighten his day. Or perhaps the interest you show can bring him out of total despair.