Looking to the Future

Dear Channel Kindness Friends and Family alike,

When I received the email asking for a reflection piece about my year with Channel Kindness, my heart stopped for a brief moment. I couldn’t believe that it was already November. How could the most incredible year of my life be coming to an end already? I can assure you that I owe so much of my happiness, growth, inspiration, and achievements to my Channel Kindness family. I’ll try to reflect as much as possible, but actually, I’m looking forward to the future more than anything, and I’ll tell you why.

Applying to Channel Kindness was healing for me, and a bit scary. I had gone from clicking on a small Facebook ad about something along the lines of a “call-to-action for ages 15-24” to filming a Youtube video about kindness. Instead of just telling CK what I thought about the definition of kindness, I actually told a story of how I turned away from it, focused on negativity, and I learned the hard way that kindness is the best option. I didn’t want others to go down that road, and I wanted to be a Channel Kindness Reporter to share how I came back from that and to highlight how happiness really is the key. I laughed as I submitted my application, wondering to myself why I decided to admit one of my biggest mistakes rather than highlight all of my achievements in an actual application.

I can say, without a second of hesitation or doubt, that being a part of the Channel Kindness family has been one of the best things that has ever happened to me. Running to my parents and telling them that I’d been invited to New York for 36 short hours to learn about one of my passions was the most surreal feeling.

As I boarded a plane (alone for the first time!) to fly across the country, I couldn’t help but feel nervous. I was only 15, the baby of the group about to arrive in New York, and I knew close to nothing about the people I was about to meet. I never could have anticipated that I was going to meet the most welcoming people in the world.

Channel Kindness taught me how to step out of my comfort zone and become a forceful, memorable storyteller. I faced several trials, from shuffling through sources to find someone that would answer my questions, to fumbling with a broken tripod on my first ever video interview (Thank you, Emilee, for your grace and patience during that one!), to crying when that same video led to me receiving a Student NATAS Award, Channel Kindness has no doubt opened doors for me and provided me with the training to pursue my wildest dreams — and let’s be honest — in a way, it’s still pretty fun to hear a Lady Gaga song come on the radio, and in a way, think, “Wow, I work for that incredible, inspiring woman.”

Enough about me, let’s focus on the people who got me here. In less than 36 hours, I had bonded with Ali, a girl from back home who is the greatest speaker I know; Rose, an inspirational, beautiful girl; Jacob, who I met in the elevator and shared a mutual love for Taylor Swift; Tori, my roommate who stayed up listening to my life story and was brave enough to open up to me, a complete stranger; Sarah, who is one of the greatest, wisest, kindest souls; Jessica, who handed me a CD of her original songs with a smile and super cool hair; Jackie, who always had something incredibly insightful to say; Perri; Maddie; Brooklynn; Nic; Isaiah; Brooke; and so, so many more. I’ve spent the year sending letters to my fellow Reporters, reaching out on social media, convinced that I have the best friends in the entire world, all who I’ve only seen in person for 36 hours. Not to mention all of the incredible Born This Way Foundation mentors I’ve met — Shadille, Alex, Aysha, Maya, Rachel, and many, many more, who have definitely changed my life.

Because of those people, I’m elated to be closing out the year at their side. I’m proud to be a Channel Kindness Alumni, and I’m blessed to have been paired up with a group as incredible as mine. There isn’t a drop of doubt that each and every person I had the honor to work alongside will grow into someone incredible. I’ve already seen them flourish and thrive throughout the year, and I’m beyond excited to be someone who has had the opportunity to see them do such incredible things, all in the name of kindness. I truly believe that the founders of Born This Way Foundation brought a new kind of light into the world that we never knew we needed, but here it is.

If I could leave you with one piece of advice, it’s to never disqualify yourself from life’s opportunities. Life will open so many doors, and there’s no harm in taking them. Rest assured, this won’t be the last you’ll see of us. I know Channel Kindness 2018 will always be in my heart and on my mind every single day. There isn’t quite a better way to say it, except that I love each and every one of you, and I can’t wait to see what you do next.

Emma

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Emma Suttell

Emma Suttell, 16, is a high school sophomore from Phoenix, Arizona. She is an executive officer of Veterans Heritage Project, a nonprofit organization dedicated to recording, writing, and telling the stories of our nation's veterans. Emma is an avid volunteer in her community, actively involved in children's ministry and teaching children's musical theatre programs. An aspiring journalism major, Emma is a student blogger and writer for several online and local publications and is especially passionate about encouraging fellow high school students throughout America to become leaders of awareness and acceptance in their own communities. In her free time, she enjoys performing with her show choir, playing piano, and blogging.

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