One final musing — power in the pen

Posted 2/24/21

“I can’t believe this. I really can’t. My mom signed me up for the PTA. I think I am going to faint. What will everyone say when they find out? Or maybe they won’t. Maybe I won’t let them. …

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One final musing — power in the pen

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“I can’t believe this. I really can’t. My mom signed me up for the PTA. I think I am going to faint. What will everyone say when they find out? Or maybe they won’t. Maybe I won’t let them. Maybe I’ll stash the certificate in my messy drawer. Deep down. I mean, seriously, who would want to be in a clique with your parents and teachers?”

In preparation to start teaching middle school, I decided it would be a good idea to dig through my old diaries. I ended up submitting the PTSA opener, as well as a dozen other bits, to “Mortified,” a comedy tour that features adults reading their embarrassing childhood stories. My 6th-grade self would be — well, mortified — at the thought of other people ever reading these entries. However, she also wouldn’t know that most of my “secrets” are already public knowledge.

Middle school marked the first time that I ever struggled with an eating disorder. Because I have now studied mental illnesses and their warning signs, many alarm bells rang as I perused my old journal entries. How did I brush off these thought patterns as just normal parts of growing up? How did no one recognize what I was going through?

I remember when I saw my first therapist who only had appointments in the middle of the day. After the other kids saw me leave English class at the same time each week, they thought that I was dying of a mysterious illness. They collectively signed a “Get Well Soon” card and presented it to me at the end of the semester. I was touched that they cared but also floored that no one else was seeing a therapist. No one seemed to talk about mental health, either.

Nowadays, a huge part of teacher training involves social and emotional learning. This includes how students apply knowledge, attitudes, and skills to set goals, manage their own emotions, and establish respectful relationships with others. Finally, it focuses on mental health awareness, something that still carries a lot of stigma into adulthood.

Writing became a major outlet for my own mental health. There is power in the pen, especially when it seems like other outlets are closed off. That is one element that I hope to convey to my students, even ones who would never write in a diary. As I say goodbye to writing Millennial Musings, I am shifting my focus to inspire the next generation of writers. Who knows, maybe one of them will end up on this very page someday.

This is the last “Millennial Musings” column by Rachel Horowitz, resides in Chatham County and works in Pittsboro. She can be reached at


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