It all started in 2021, in response to what was happening around us. We were just emerging from the pandemic, after more than a year in lockdown where we were glued to our screens and isolated from our peers and the world as we knew it.
Adults, experts, and the media were saying that teens should talk about what they were going through, but the reality was this: not everyone felt comfortable doing that. Especially boys. For a lot of us, we’d internalized some version of, “Be strong.”
But I knew that people wanted to talk, and not just because of the pandemic. That year of isolation amplified what I felt had been going on for years: we felt disconnected from ourselves and each other–and we were afraid to admit it, to come off as weak. I began to wonder if we needed to examine our definition of “strong.” Not just for boys, but for all of us. What if there was strength in vulnerability?
I got out my phone, created an Instagram account, and started a community where we could open up and have those conversations.
I was surprised by what happened next. Teens from not just all over the country, but all over the world, got involved. They sent in questions they wanted to talk about. They joined my IG lives. They shared their personal experiences and asked for advice on things they’d never had the courage to bring up before. They sent me messages saying they finally felt understood, or heard something that helped them in their daily lives.
Clearly, there’s a lot we need to be talking about.
My goal in creating this community is not only to start talking, but to start doing. If you’d like to become a Talk with Zach Ambassador, head over here to see how you can get involved.
It’s up to our generation to create the kind of world we want to live in. And that starts with becoming emotionally resilient, open, and compassionate people as we head into adulthood.