A Love Letter to my Pen

Being different in a town where there is no one to empathize with was complicated. Adolescence is cruel for everyone without the additional weight of being the only live Muslim representation (out of approximately 1.5 billion) for most. I am an opinionated teenager, but even as ideas form, the fear of failure, misrepresentation, and conflict kept me from sharing my point-of-view. Embracing my identity was necessary to mature, but the veil on my head came with a veil of silence — not in the oppressive way commonly believed. In this world, hatred prevails. I found my passion in the safest outlet; my pen. Writing has been my therapy for nearly a decade— academically, socially, and personally.

For the longest time, my sentiments were left unheard by my friends, classmates, and teachers. I allowed people to dispense their input, nodding along despite being able to easily scrutinize the nuances of their arguments. This occurred externally for the entirety of freshman year. It frustrated me—I knew what I wanted to say, but I never knew the appropriate approach.

Looking back, it was obvious. I knew of my talent when I received a “Best Writer” certificate from my beloved fifth-grade teacher. I knew joining the school newspaper was destiny, having fatefully noticed the information email at the beginning of freshman year. Topics ranged from pop culture — my favorite side interest — to my personal take on the Women’s March. My perspective may have only reached some staff and a fraction of the student body, but this was a definitive step in my evolution as a full-fledged teen writer.

That summer, my letter about tolerance in America was speedily published in many local newspapers, even USA Today. I engaged with my mosque’s media team, writing informative pieces about Islam — a learning experience for me and receptive readers. I took a creative writing course and discovered my newfound appreciation for poetry and prose. I joined the literary/arts magazine as both a staff member and contributor. These experiences guided self-discovery and developed me into a unique individual.

Today, I am Editor-in-Chief of the newspaper—an incredible responsibility, improving my writing and editing skills while establishing a positive level of school spirit I never thought I would have. I am the literary editor of the magazine. Every meeting allows me to find human connections with the same student body that once left me isolated. I continue publishing articles outside of school; I am now in charge of the Media Watch program at my mosque.

Writing has provided both an outlet for expression and a variety of leadership positions, boosting my confidence tenfold. I have opened a wide, new door of opportunities aside from law school, once only goal. There are many ways I can use my creativity to break my silence; whether it be traveling the world as a journalist, authoring any types of novels, or simply writing poems with steaming coffee in my living room—writing will be in my life forever.

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a pakistani-american lover of words (and macchiatos) | student at new york university

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Kanita T.

a pakistani-american lover of words (and macchiatos) | student at new york university