WEST CHESTER, PA — Karisma Jaini is standing at a crossroads. The Rustin High School senior will be graduating in roughly two months and is trying to decide where life will take her next – Virginia Commonwealth University or the University of Richmond. One thing that she will take with her no matter where she goes? The fact that she is a published author at the age of 18.
Karisma’s essay, titled “To You, Women, I Am Eternally Grateful” is featured in A Teenager’s Guide to Feminisim (Pear Shaped Press, December 2020).
The collection of essays, poems, and stories “is aimed at helping today’s youth navigate the necessary but sometimes controversial topics surrounding what it means to be a feminist or a woman in modern society.”
While brief, Karisma’s essay is rich with emotion, focused on her father’s illness, heartbreak, self-harm, and the women who brought her back from those dark places.
“In a lot of my pieces prior (to this one,) I touched upon some of the things that had happened to me in the past,” said Karisma. “This piece is a turning point in my writing where I started using writing to heal the traumatic things that happened in my past.”
Karisma’s observations of the world around her and a warped view of beauty perpetuated by Western culture led her down a slippery slope.
“I went through a really bad period of self-harm,” said Karisma. “I was so sad all the time. I was ashamed of myself. It’s important to talk about (self-harm) because I think it’s something that a lot of people go through but kind of shift around. It’s a hard topic to talk about, but writing is a way of forgiveness. I forgave myself.”
“Growing up being brown and ambiguously raced in predominantly white spaces…so much of my experience is centered around that. I don’t want that aspect of my writing to ever be forgotten,” continued Karisma.
Karisma’s insight into life at such a young age is remarkable.
“I looked at happiness as this thing that I could never attain versus when I started living to the point where I was like ‘alright, what can I do to make every single day bearable?'”
“Happiness isn’t a destination. It’s having something to look forward to when you wake up in the morning. Make every day bearable. Talk to one person you know who loves you. Verify your existence and keep going.”
And, that’s what Karisma will do, keep going. She plans on majoring in environmental science next fall, all while continuing to write.
A Teenager’s Guide to Feminisim is available on Amazon and through other booksellers.
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