When I was 12 years old, I already knew that my teen years were going to be the worst years of my life. And I was right. I was a total outsider, bullied at school and neglected at home. I felt completely alone and isolated in my small town.
Turning my desperation for help into a passion for helping others, I started doing volunteer work when I was 14. The opportunity to practice kindness in the face of so much hostility made me feel like my life had a greater purpose. The more positive energy I shared, the more kindness and appreciation I received. I realized that my purpose in life as a grownup would be to reach out to people, specifically teens, and help them feel less alone.
Books were my true friends back then. I was so thankful that the authors wrote those books, that their characters inspired me to never give up. The kindness those authors offered me with their books saved my life. One of my biggest dreams was to become an author so I could write books that would help other teens the way those books helped me. The hope that I could eventually create a happy life, one where I could help teens every day, inspired me to keep holding on.
After surviving horrible experiences at school and at home, I made a choice to take the optimistic, positive road in the next steps of my journey to create my best life. I was a high school science teacher for ten years. That was my dream big career. My dream bigger career, one I thought was only possible for the rock star authors I worshipped, is actually what I am doing now. I have been a full-time author of teen novels since 2007 and am grateful for this amazing opportunity to reach out to readers in need every single day.
Kindness saved me when I needed help the most. Even small acts of kindness—a smile, a compliment, a door held open—can change someone’s life. You never know what someone else is going through. But by practicing daily kindness, you become an architect of positive change. And you just might inspire others to do the same.