People & Places

YWP: Recalibrate

Young Writers Project, an independent nonprofit based in Burlington, engages young people to write and use digital media to express themselves with clarity and power, and to gain confidence and skills for school, the workplace and life.

Each week, VTDigger features a writing submission – an essay, poem, fiction or nonfiction – accompanied by a photo or illustration from Young Writers Project.

YWP publishes about 1,000 students’ work each year here, in newspapers across Vermont, on Vermont Public Radio and in YWP’s monthly digital magazine, The Voice. Since 2006, it has offered young people a place to write, share their photos, art, audio and video, and to explore and connect online at For more information, please contact Susan Reid at [email protected].

Illustration by Ellie Eringis

Confidence is a tricky piece of our personality that always seems to require one more squeak of helium, or 10 less. It can take years until we feel our head bobbing steadily with the other balloons in any given room. But this week’s featured poet, Julia Todd of South Burlington, is already beginning to understand that a healthy, happy ego is built not upon comparisons to others but a humbler self-respect.


By Julia Todd, 15, South Burlington

I still need to learn that I am not the very worst.
That I am not the only one with actions to regret.
That people don’t walk by me thinking, She must have been cursed.
That people who don’t think this haven’t always been misled.

And I still need to learn that I am also not the best.
That “Others are below me” is a thought that’s wrong, untrue.
That they are better than me, in ways I’ve never guessed.
That we have more in common than I ever, ever knew.

Self-care does not mean you should forget to care for others;
loving others does not mean you do not have to love yourself.
Looking out dark windows, all you see is your own face, and that’s ‘cause
you’re the one who’s looking,

not because there’s no one else.

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