The Best Experience of My Life
Krystyl Chwa, Division 3, College junior #ws16e-s1d3

My entire life—starting from when I first began to read and write—has always been centered on my adoration for books and fiction. My childhood was spent diving in and out of novels and scribbling my own stories into spiral notebooks. Even now as a college student, there is rarely a moment where I don’t have my nose buried in a new book, or find my fingers typing furiously at my keyboard as I try to write a new story. The first time one of my own fictional works was published, was the greatest experience of my life. With the publication, I was given the opportunity to outwardly share my stories with others, and with it came an outpour of support, encouragement, and inspiration. It was an experience that I worked hard for, an experience that I am incredibly proud of, and one that continues to shape who I am today. 

I first began writing because it was a way that I was able to share my passion for storytelling. Storytelling has been a fundamental part of human nature since the beginning of time, and as a writer, it allows me to connect with other people in a uniquely intimate way. Through storytelling, I can create adventures, elicit emotions, evoke laughter. Stories are a place where time travel is easy and your destinations are limitless, where children learn to cast spells and mix potions, and men can go on epic journeys and encounter everything from one-eyed Cyclopes to to enchanting sirens. It a place where country barnyards have talking pigs and kind-hearted spiders that weave messages into their webs, and where mischievous boys become pirates and search for hidden treasures, wrecking havoc all the way up the Mississippi river and back. Stories are filled with valiant heroes and evil villains, wise men and brave warriors, daunting hardships and charming fairytales. 

In the summer of 2012, after my junior year of high school, a short story that I’d written and submitted to an online publication, was accepted. Within two weeks, the story that I’d spent so much time intricately weaving together, was out in the world, and people were reading it! I began to receive emails and comments about the story, some offering praise, and others offering constructive criticism. To my surprise, people even began sharing the story with their friends, and suddenly people from all over the world were reading what I’d wrote! The experience was overwhelming, and I was the first time that I began to consider writing as a possible career. This story I’d created—one about love, friendship, and overcoming hardship—had the ability to touch other people. Just like the thousands of books that influenced and inspired me in my life, I realized that through my art, I was able to do it too. 

Through the years, and with the encouragement of friends, teachers, and family members, I’ve been lucky enough to have a few more of my works published, and as proud as I am of each and every one, none compared to the tremendous experience and rush of emotion that came with that very first publication. It was the day I realized how powerful something as simple as a story can be. How profound it is that simple words printed on a page can have the ability impact so many people—even if it is just for a moment or two. I personally believe stories and literature have changed my life, and that each book I have ever read, each new story that I’ve absorbed, has added to my life in a considerable way.

 I can only hope that I can continue to share stories for the rest of my life, and that what I create can stand the test of time and continue to reach people long after I’ve gone. There aren’t many experiences in your life that truly open your eyes to all the possibilities life has to offer. Getting published changed how I perceived myself. I have an impact, and I realized I could push forward with my art and share my stories and ideas. You never know how powerful you are.  As small as we might appear in the grand scheme of things, we are never insignificant. We all have the ability to influence the world we live in, and I’ve learned that when an opportunity presents itself, you need to reach for it. Because your ideas, your stories, your art is worth sharing. 
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