To Write, to Love, to Learn

Writing is junior Emily Andrews’ passion and people are her greatest love.

It’s four in the morning, but junior Emily Andrews1 is still writing.

Deadline is 9:50 A.M. – the end of her second period journalism class – but she’s not worried. Despite Andrews’ procrastination, she’ll get the story done.

She always does.

The insomnia helps, too, but mostly it’s because she’s passionately inspired by the world. In these early morning hours, Andrews’ mind races about society and the way teenage girls are pushed around, labeled with all sorts of misconstrued stereotypes.

Depression being one of them – the symptoms of it shoved under the rug, in the closet, under the bed as “just a phase”.

It makes Andrews’ angry.

“It’s like any other illness that people don’t understand,” Andrews said. “It’s kind of like this foreign thing that people know exists, know it’s there but they don’t . . . understand it. A lot of the time, you make assumptions about it and you make assumptions about the people who suffer. And it’s wrong. And it kind of leads to . . . [a] socially acceptable perspective of it.”

Andrews is quick to bring up Urban Outfitters’ “Depression” line of clothing.

“I was on Twitter today and Urban Outfitters had just come out with a line [of] a couple of t-shirts and [they] stood out to me. One . . . was just a little black crop top and it had big bold white letters just over and over and over and over wrapped around the t-shirt: depression-depression-depression-depression. I was really … disgusted by it. It was shocking at first, but at the same time, it didn’t shock me, which is really sad.”

Andrews’ article quietly slams society’s romanticism about the very issue that the t-shirt line represents. She writes it from the perspective of a teenage girl – but at the same time, it could very well be her own. Motivated by her overwhelming passion for people, for words, for telling people’s stories, she writes.

She writes because she knows.

Because she understands.

She has been where the teenage girl in her story has been.

She knows what it’s like.

Andrews knows; two years ago, she was diagnosed with depression and anxiety.

“It really hinders your ability to do things normally a lot of time,” Andrews’ said. “Especially the anxiety part of it.”

But it doesn’t stop Andrews from writing.

From telling the story that goes untold and misunderstood.

She lives by something her therapist told her: “Be mindful”.

It’s written in simple letters on a rubber band on her car keys, a constant reminder “to breathe, to just stop and take a step back and be mindful of where [she] is”.

“[Depression and anxiety] give me perspective, give me the ability to do things other people won’t through writing,” Andrews says. “I find voice not only in writing myself, but in seeing . . . I have learned this capacity to see people.”

She sees people for things greater than “the things that they’ve been and the things they were and the things they’ve been through”. She sees people with love and genuinely “believe[s] in them” and the good of humanity.

In her new insight and perspective, Andrews is still learning. Most importantly, she’s learned to love people for who they are at a most genuine, intrinsic level.

“I would love to [major in] journalism, especially photojournalism, [working] for National Geographic, traveling the world and seeing all kinds of people and all kinds of cultures where life is just different than it is here because sometimes the truest people can be found in the poorest of places,” Andrews said. “If I could have a job description, [it] would be . . . people.”

She wants to talk to people, to know them and share their stories.

“I [want to] show the world the struggles that people face on a daily basis. I think that’s what I have a passion about. Pointing out the things that no one likes to talk about. Or that people don’t really know is happening. Kind of getting out of myself because I feel like  . . . right now it’s really hard for your body to be in a place where your mind is not and your heart is not.”

Her greatest ambition is to leave Texas, to leave the United States on escapades around the world, mainly in South Africa.

“People are always like, ‘it’s a hard life, going somewhere you’ve never been before, taking chances – you could get hurt.’ I don’t want an easy life. I never asked for an easy life. There’s nothing about life that I want to be easy. Because I know hard. I deal with it on a daily basis. I wouldn’t say I’m thankful for depression and anxiety, but at the same time, it equips me to be able to see people in a different way. It’s strengthened me for sure.”

That’s all Andrews needs.

She’s got her insight, her passion, her words.

One day, she’ll get her chance to travel, to love, to listen, to learn.

But for now, she’s up at four A.M.

Still writing.

1- Her name has been changed for the privacy and anonymity, as per request.