Even after many rewrites and revisions, my essay wasn’t Modern Love column worthy, so the rejection email from the editors wasn’t a surprise. Still, the writer in me was ready to test some version of my story with an audience. When my colleague who arranges for speakers at our weekly Upper School chapel wrote to me asking if I could step in on short notice to fill an unexpected vacancy, I jumped at the chance and got to work tinkering with my piece, reframing it in a way that I hoped would resonate with 300 or so ninth-twelfth graders and 30 ish adults. As I often do, I turned to trusted colleagues who knew the audience well, to test my thinking. While I’d taught quite a few of these students when they were in our Lower School, I did not know their teenage selves well.
When the moment to speak came, a calm came over me, replacing the nerves I’d worked to keep in check for the previous hour. After, as students filed out of the auditorium, and nearly every day since, I have heard from someone about what they heard, felt, thought. The feedback ranges from simple to stunning. And I am reminded of the power of sharing our stories.
A recording of the story I shared is here. My part begins around minute 19.