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In my mid to late teens, I was having an argument with my mother about cupcakes.

It’s not really important what the argument was about, but the gist of it is that, in response to her telling me not to eat another cupcake, I took one and shoved the entire thing in my mouth at once while maintaining eye contact with her.

You can call that what you will—rebellious, ridiculous, amusing, or just plain stupid—but I can’t deny that the cupcake still tasted delicious.

I’m guessing you clicked on this because there’s something you’re supposed to be doing and you’re not doing it.

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Write down every excuse you have for pushing it off.

“There are things I want to do more than what I need to do—like reading this Medium answer.”

“I can’t motivate myself to do it.”

“I’m tired.”

“I can just do it tomorrow.”

“I can just do it in five minutes.”

“Five more minutes.”

“One more answer.”

“I can do it later. It’s not pressing that I do it now.”

“I don’t want to do it right now.”

Look over your…

I was seventeen years old, huddling in the corner of a classroom with other kids from my grade, cowering in darkness. Approximately ten seconds earlier, my principal’s voice had come over the loudspeaker: “We are now in lockdown.” Shortly thereafter: “This is not a drill. There is an active shooter at a nearby school.”

So there we were, grouped together in darkness except for the glow emitted from my classmates’ phone screens, silent except for the rapid tapping as they texted their parents, There’s an active shooter and I’m okay and Mom, I’m scared.

It was a mistake. There was…

I’m a nineteen-year-old girl.

When you read that, what did you think? Did you assume something about my maturity, my intellect, my experience? Did you assume that I say “I’m fine” when I’m not, hoping someone will fish something out of me?

The truth is this: usually when I tell people I’m fine, it’s because I actually am perfectly fine. And when I use it as a lie, it’s because I don’t feel like talking about it.

I’m not asking people to fish things out of me. That’s rude and an unfair expectation to have of somebody. I’m not going…

My finger hovered over the button. My hand was shaking. In one hand, I pinched a chunk of fat off my thigh; in the other, I held the plunger. Deep breath after deep breath, I counted down the seconds as I tried to steel my nerves.

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Sometime prior to this, my doctors and parents began to get concerned because I wasn’t growing. I was fourteen years old, but I was 4”10 and I hadn’t really grown for years. Several tests later and here I sat, artificial growth hormones being covered by insurance. …

That line is perhaps one of the more cliché platitudes people hear. Everything seems like it’s never going to improve and it’s just depressing to keep going and keep getting met with the same disappointments, over and over again until it’s hard to believe there could be anything else.

I can’t exactly go deeply into my old social situation without offending or exposing certain people I used to hang out with, but suffice it to say that most of the people I used to hang out with were friends of circumstance.

When I was in twelfth grade — senior year…

I look at my phone and it flashes the date. October 1. My cousin Ezra would be turning 22 today.

If he were still alive.

It hits me, then. Four years ago, my cousin, Ezra Schwartz, was celebrating his eighteenth birthday. A month and a half later, he was dead.

It was my first experience with death. I was fourteen and in my first year of high school. Trying to grow into my personality, pursue my passions, be a teenager. Then someone shot my cousin in the face.

It’s weird sometimes. Knowing he won’t get older. …

Currently, in many magazines, Instagram posts, and Reddit feeds, people are preaching self-love.

Self-love is incredibly important. It is important to love yourself regardless of your flaws, mistakes, and failings. However, it is equally important to be self-aware and constantly on a quest of self-improvement.

Here’s where the self-love movement gets it wrong: You cannot accept the worst parts of yourself. You cannot ever, even for a moment, think of yourself as anything other than a work in progress.

You are never finished with your journey. You will not reach a point where you are the perfect person. …

It was an all-boys school, very religious Jews (I’m Jewish) who were around the age of 10. I watched the principal (who happened to be my own principal from high school) try to lead the boys out of harm’s way. I watched children drop as gunshots rang through the air.

Bang. Bang. Two boys, standing next to each other, dropped like puppets whose strings had been cut. Never to rise again. The kids around them saw their classmates’ bodies and took off running. More gunshots. More kids dropping, their legs falling out from under them as they flopped down to…

My classmate asked my teacher today, “Why do you keep the door locked?”

He replied, “In case someone is walking around the building with a gun.”

“Is that the actual reason?” another classmate asked.


“What happens if a kid gets locked out?”

“I’ll open the door for them.”

The other day, when we had a lockdown, kids frantically began asking whether it was a drill. Because the first thing that came to mind wasn’t, Oh, it’s a drill; it was, What if there’s an active shooter?

Don’t you dare tell the children of America that we are safe. Because we’re not. And I won’t believe differently until my teacher starts leaving the door unlocked.

Brooke Schwartz

Professional writer, editor, and tutor; social justice advocate; Orthodox Jew; dedicated Grammar Auror

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