It was 2020. There was a global pandemic and the world was in lockdown. My grandfather, who was a huge part of my life, had been sick and died that first month.
Everyone was saying that teens should talk about what they were going through, but the reality was this: not everyone felt comfortable doing that. Especially boys. The message we got was usually some version of this: “Be strong.”
But as the weeks morphed into months and then a year, 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? What if there was bravery in the kind of honesty we don’t really post on social media?
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 with experts. They shared their personal experiences and asked for advice on things they’d never had the courage to bring up before.
Clearly, there’s a lot we need to be talking about.
On Talk with Zach, I answer your questions with a combination of research and my own thoughts as a teen dealing with similar things, interview experts on topics you’ve been writing in about, and have conversations with other teens willing to share their personal experiences to help others who relate.