By Emerson Brown, Staff Writer
// “No matter how many times you hit the floor when you simply could not find the strength to stand, you rose each time, finding the worth in our heart even when our mind could not,” wrote sophomore Kayli Harley in her award-winning essay.
The Lily published Harley’s essay as a runner up to their competition on Dec. 23, 2019, with a prompt of writing a letter to her 2030 self.
The Lily is a product of the Washington Post, whose mission is to “Inform and Empower” and to “Expose diverse voices and perspectives,” according to their website.
Harley found out about this competition through a creative writing class she takes every Sunday called the Intuitive Writing Project, where her teacher brought up the essay prompt in class.
“In that session of that class, I wrote it. I didn’t think that much of it. I didn’t think it would go anywhere,” Harley said.
She submitted the essay in November and heard back on Dec. 18, 2019, that she is one of two runner ups and would be published on The Lily’s website.
“I was very surprised [when I found out I won]. I started jumping up and down. It was kind of surreal. I didn’t expect that,” Harley said.
The Lily has a substantial national readership, and after being published, anyone can read Harley’s work.
“It’s pretty personal, what I wrote there, and of course I never expected [people to see it],” Harley said.
In terms of reception, Harley has viewed it as relatively positive.
“I’m pretty nervous, but I feel like we have a pretty accepting campus. Everything I’ve heard about it so far has been really positive feedback, and that’s been really nice,” Harley said.
When writing the letter, Harley wrote what came to mind. She did not write it in a typical essay format, but rather as a letter to her future self speaking in the second person. The other runner up and winner of the competition did not follow a formal essay format either.
“I wasn’t really writing it for the purpose of submitting it at that point. I was writing it as if I was actually going to read it when I was 25. It was just things I wanted myself to remember,” Harley said.
Harley continues to write regularly in class, for school, and alone. In her essay, she reminds her future self to look back on her writing now.
“I’m a little bit nervous [about it being in the open], but it’s also pushing me to get out there more with my writing, so I think that’s going to be really good for me in the long run,” Harley said.
Read Harley’s essay below.