For the second time in the past couple years now, I can say I have had a poem of mine published once again! My first poem published was in an anthology called We Will Not Be Silenced which shares countless stories through poetry, prose and art of survivors of sexual harassment and assault.

Me holding my copy of We Will Not Be Silenced, which contains what will be the first of many poems I’ll have published in the future.

What made me decide to contribute to this anthology about sexual harassment and assault is my own personal experiences. The long story short end of the matter was as I was growing up having to deal with being bullied in school by boys in my elementary and middle school years. The bullying I experienced in elementary school from boys my own age was physical, such as tugging at my hair during class to one of the boys sitting behind me on the school bus and punching the back of my seat.

Once I entered middle school, the bullying became more harassment in nature. In my 6th grade English class, I found myself hiding my face during class because one of the boys was always puckering his lips and making kissing noises at me. I tried getting him to stop to no avail. I also had to deal with another boy that same year telling me that he wanted to kiss me and telling me that he knew I wanted to kiss him too even though I never expressed any interest in him. At that point of my life, I’d never kissed anyone so I was worried that he might try to force a kiss on me one day.

These experiences and many others I experienced growing up inspired me to write my poem because the phrase I use to title my poem is a phrase many of us heard growing up when dealing with harassment from boys. But in my opinion, I see the phrase as a crutch to excuse boys from their wrongful behavior, which just continues to perpetuate and allow them to act that way as they grow up.

My most recent poetry publication is in an anthology called Through the Looking Glass: Reflection on Madness and Chaos Within. This anthology’s main focus is on mental illness and the experiences each of us have with dealing with our battle against our mental illness. Since mental illness is such a taboo subject, this anthology is an important step in the right direction to beginning the process of people actually talking about their mental health problems instead of feeling like their having to cope with them alone.

My big struggle that I talk about in Through the Looking Glass is with depression. I make a comparison between depression being an everyday fight against a demon that I have to slay and conquer every day because that’s how my experience with depression has been since I discovered I was depressed. I discovered I had depression when I was in college when I started having dreams and waking up with tears streaming down my face during the night and not understanding why. But it was not until years later in 2019 when my best friend lost her fight against cystic fibrosis that I discovered my depression getting worse. The depression I experienced during my college years was nothing like the demon I found myself fighting against once I lost my dear friend, one of the few people who I felt like knew me and understood me as a person. But I’ve been conjuring it one day at a time and I feel like I’m doing so much better now than I’ve been for a while.

 I also have another poem of mine that’s going to be published in another anthology that’ll be coming out in the near future that I’m excited about.

But one of the many reasons I wrote this post is now that I have some of my writing being published, should I consider myself an author? I mean most of the writing of mine that is getting published is poetry and each anthology is only going to have one of my poems, each one different from the other. But I do not know if I should consider myself an author because of these poems being put out there because I do not know if I feel like I deserve that title.

At the same time though, I love the written word so much and being published in any capacity has always been a dream of mine. I know technically I have been published since college along with since I started this blog back in 2015 after I graduated from college. But there is something different about seeing your name in a physical book you can hold in your hands. And to me (along with this blog of course), that feels like a huge accomplishment. Nonetheless, I still struggle with assigning myself the title of author because I still cannot believe I have accomplished this much in what feels like such a short amount of time. And I really cannot wait to see where my writing will go from here, what other publications I will find myself contributing to in the near future.