Finish Your First Draft of Life (A Message of Hope for Teens)

Poetry 4 min read

My friend quit writing
the greatest story of his life
before he even finished his first draft.

Put down his pen to pick the path
of an “easy” way out.
Filled with fear and doubt
he threw out his life’s work
before it was even written -

And we were left waiting.
In high school
we sat as teens at the same table,
same writing class,
where he never passed in his rough draft,
rather, he decided to quit.
Never submitted his work,
he took his life’s script, ripped it in half
when it was only half-written;
‘Cause living his teenage story wasn’t easy.

And when life asked the question ‘to be, or not to be’
he chose the latter.

Every first draft is perfect, because all a first draft has to do is exist. ~ Jane Smiley
Every first draft is perfect, because all a first draft has to do is exist. ~ Jane Smiley

Gave up; gave in.
And I gave him my tears.

Years later, now as a poet, if I could,
I would give him these words right here
to give him a fresh world view.

But I can’t...
give him this piece of hope
to give him some peace and hope he makes it through.
I can’t...
give him my sincere expressions, so he could receive
a new perspective of truth
he can’t. ‘Cause he is gone.

So I give to you, this poem
“Finish Your First Draft”

Endure. ‘Cause you have a whole
life story set before you;
waiting for your essence to fill the stage.
Keep your pen to the page through this adolescent strife.
Keep typing.
This is the time you are trying
to find your voice;
to find your way through the noise,
to realize your truth
And while your now immature instrument move,
remember…your youth
is a just mock up;

It is a sketchy, unclear reference
from which, you will design a captivating
arrangement of words
the world has yet to hear;

Yet it’s here- in the edit, in the revision
you will define the meaning
of why your life is worth living.
And you’ll soon find “You are a masterpiece
of your own making.”

The purpose of the first draft is not to get it right, but to get it written. ~ John Dufresne
The purpose of the first draft is not to get it right, but to get it written. ~ John Dufresne

So sit with it.
Keep writing.
When you are confused,
wonderin’ “What existence is for?”
- Keep writing
When you feel the pressure of living up to more
than unreal expectation of your parents’ perfect piece.
Releases that stress, and yes,
- Keep writing.
When you think your best days are behind you,
that is a lie. Which is why, you must, yes,
- Keep giving
your soul into that blankness
that lays bare before you.

Don’t mind the typos, the blocks of flow,
Even though you don’t know
where the semicolon goes. Frig it.
Forget punctuation, just place it.

Let your voice fall awkwardly into the emptiness
realizing THIS IS the process.
It IS stressful. Full of effort,
and yes - you will make it through.

So when life asks of you
‘To be or not to be’, choose
the former, choose to be
creative, to be bold, to see it through.
Choose life and finish your first draft
‘cause you’ve only just begun,
because the best is yet to come.

So don’t quit,
rather, publish what is within.
Write life, right now, and
commit to finishing your first draft again and again.

‘Cause soon the day is coming when
the whole world will marvel as you pick up your pen
and craft a perennial masterpiece
that is your life, which will know
no end.

There’s Something Not Right Here.
How Do We Make It So?

Twice this week, I received news of different high schoolers who made an irreversible decision.

After receiving news of a graduate who made the same decision, I had to breath life into the space. So to inspire and encourage the 12th graders who were sitting in front of me, I wrote this piece.

Life can sometimes feel like an overwhelming challenge, especially during adolescence when emotions run high and self-doubt creeps in. It's crucial for teenagers to know that they are not alone in their struggles and that there is always hope for a brighter future.

We find ways to cope and to navigate through difficult times.

I found mine in a non-judgmental space while writing.

This is why I emphasize the importance of seeking yourself in the pages, as well as help from trusted friends, family members, or professionals who can provide support during these challenging moments.

Remember, your life is a story you are writing – it has its ups and downs, and every setback can be overcome.

By reaching out for help and embracing your inner resilience, you can continue writing your own unique narrative with courage and determination.

If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts or mental health issues, please reach out to a helpline or mental health professional in your country. Remember that there is always support available.

If you're in a dark place, I encourage you on your journey towards finding hope amidst that darkness finish your first draft of life.

poetry mindset self-worth