This post was written by Mentee Shannon Daniels
It didn’t hit me when I’d spun before the vanity mirrors of the green room, munched on granola bars and pretzels, and rehearsed with Amanda in the stairwell. It didn’t hit me when we practiced the first lines of our pieces one at a time, recited tongue twisters, and shook out our bodies before the show. It didn’t even hit me once I was on stage. Not when I walked down, not when I high-fived the row of mentees who’d cheered for me in the crowd. The thought that this would be my last CHAPTERS performance and as a Girls Write Now mentee is still hard for me to believe.
After the show, my mentor, Whitney, flung her arms around me.
“I hope they’re not taking pictures of me crying.”
I laughed. “I think you’re good.”
“I’m just so happy and proud of you,” she said. “I mean, this is your last CHAPTERS, our last year together, and you’ve grown up so much.”
It was the best compliment anyone could’ve given me: not that my writing was “nice” or “interesting” or that I was special for winning awards, but that I had changed. I was different from the Shannon who never thought she could write plays or make a video game or create characters with complex, real relationships – none of which I could’ve done without Whitney’s guidance and encouragement.
I made my way through the crowd. As I hugged and chatted with the mentees and mentors I’d befriended over the past three years, I realized that this really would be a good-bye, at least for a while. I’ll attend college on the opposite coast, miles from the community that has made New York a beautiful, bustling, electric part of me. I’ll miss the water towers and slosh of cars going over puddles outside my window. I’ll miss my parents, my friends, and the mentees who have become as engrained in my story as a stars in a constellation. But, more than anything, I feel ready for all the “breakthroughs” that lie ahead. I know that when I make my way back to New York, I’ll have a community of women waiting for my stories and eager to share their own