We often hear the myth that we have a lost generation of young people who are self-centered, uncaring, and acting out in vastly negative behaviors. This misconception is simply not true for many young individuals. As I continue to embark upon my mission to support and inspire youth and young adults to identify and tap into their greatness, I come across young visionaries who are already walking in their purpose.
One of those young visionaries is the lovely Ayanna Bates; she's a 19-year-old remarkable young lady who is using her testimony to spread a message of love, understanding, and advocacy for individuals who struggle with mental illness. Through our connection, we learned our stories were similar, and we both embarked upon a journey of finding refuge through putting a voice to our pain in our writing and advocacy work.
Ayanna found peace through writing about her feelings, thoughts, and experiences. Her writing began from receiving a journal at the age of seven from her grandmother. Since early childhood, she's written short stories, novels, and poetry that share her experiences of navigating through life while managing her mental health. Through her writing, she's brought a voice and clarity for young women who are struggling with coping with life or managing mental illness.
Her first published collection; An Old Teen provides a voice to the voiceless teen struggling through life transitions. Ayanna's poems explore topics like depression, heartache, eating disorders, loneliness, and uncertainty. She intimately allows the reader an up close and personal view of her struggles moving from teenager to young adult and the trials that come with gaining new obligations. Her ability to vividly depict her thoughts through her poetry is telling of her creativity and wisdom. An Old Teen engages youth, young adults, and those young at heart through her poetic verses about relationships, feminism, religion, and life.
Along with her written works, Ayanna continues to change the imagery of an individual with mental illness; through modeling that she is equipped and capable of changing her circumstances. As she currently pursues her undergraduate degree, she also dedicates her time to advocating for others who struggle with mental illness and offering parents advice on how to support their youth through active listening, being attentive and practicing patience. Ayanna's one of the countless examples of young people who are doing their part to make our future brighter. As we continue to support our future leaders, we are a part of creating the positive change needed for generations to come.