It’s our experiences that unite us.

Whether or not we share them, we all have stories, and it’s my hope that someday people will enjoy mine.

Saul – London

My hopes for me:

Ironically, the only physical book I’ve read cover-to-cover since leaving school focuses on an imprisoned community containing only prescribed literature. I picked it up in a welcoming London bookstore, home to more books than floor space. Hidden amongst the ceiling-high shelves, ladders, and boxes was the personable owner who was so endearing, I felt no apprehensions in sharing my aspirations with him; I proudly told him I wanted to be an author.

It wasn’t until my late teens, trundling along in traffic on the tumultuous M6, that I had the slightest inkling it was a pathway I wanted to pursue. It started with an idea conceived while listening to an audiobook, sprouted when I put my first words to word processor, grew with somewhat inconsistent input, and stunted when I left the manuscript untouched, finding excuses to warrant my inactivity. Had I not shown it to my dad, who gave me encouragement and support I’m massively grateful for, I wouldn’t have committed to 2,000 words a day and have three manuscripts I’m proud of to show for it.

Creative writing, a subject I didn’t have much love for in school, has given me purpose, a voice, and a goal. Words, paragraphs, and chapters form a story, and I believe stories are an innate part of being human. We all have experiences—some mundane, some fanciful—that form the fabric of life and unite us. I choose to share mine through the written word as that form of expression is the most natural for me. Whether or not we share them, we all have stories, and it’s my hope that someday people will enjoy mine.

Hopes for my community:

Much of the German I learnt in high school has since departed me on account of infrequent use, yet I still remember the opening to a personal statement used in a written and oral exam. Langholm ist bekannt für rugby und die textilindustrie. Langholm, my small rural town, is known for rugby and the textile industry. Accustomed to playing with a ball at my feet rather than my hands, rugby wasn’t for me, and a few minor operations aside, the textile industry has greater prominence in the history books than the high street.

More captivating to me is a man who named Langholm his hometown. Neil Armstrong. In becoming the first man to step on the moon, Neil fulfilled the hopes of a president, a nation, and anyone who has looked up to the stars in awe. It’s a great pride to know a pioneer such as Neil associated himself with Langholm, home to the Armstrong clan. While my community is unlikely to be the frontier of future ventures into space, I believe it can still have broad horizons.

Under the pandemic’s shadow, a communal spirit epitomised by collaboration and respect swept through the town. It highlighted the best Langholm’s members have to offer and can serve as a foundation for growth and a testament to what the community can be. As hope represents wishes for the future, it’s perhaps the brilliant minds developed in Langholm’s education system who we should look to for inspiration. I hope one day Langholm gives them as much pride as it did Neil Armstrong.

Hopes for the world:

Stability is a state many took for granted prior to this year; few will now be unaware how fast life can change. We’ve seen food poverty and racial injustice take centre stage, while other serious issue such as China’s mistreatment of Uighur Muslims continues to be side-stepped by some in society. There is an evident inequality in how wrongs are publicised and righted, and we can all do a better job of treating others how we’d like them to treat us. The pandemic may have shown how adversity can alter our world, yet it also displayed how many people are working towards fairer living for everyone.

Through the looking glass of social media, the Marcus Rashfords, Greta Thunbergs, and Bill Gateses of our world can seem so close and simultaneously distant. Their projects and plights are as ambitious as they are grand, but that shouldn’t prevent us from trying to emulate them. A double-digit follower count is not a barrier to altruism, and a dearth of likes is not a reflection on the work we put in. Too many times we crave attention, when the best gesture we can give is to pay attention.

Lending an ear to those in need and those of more experience is among the first and simplest steps we can take to improve our world. Natural disasters and freak phenomena may be out of our hands, so lets extend those free hands to the people asking for assistance, who our collective goodwill and actions can benefit. Our contributions to society affect the world we share, and being mindful of that will ensure it’s a place we all want to live in.

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