Guest Submission


  • 12 years old
  • Oahu, Hawaii


  • 18 years old
  • New York City, New York
  • Sales Associate at American Apparel

My Story...

My name is Athena and I was raised on the island of Oahu, Hawaii. The little photo tainting my hand was taken around 2006 or 2007 when I graduated from the 6th grade. It was an awkward year full of experimental music and lingo. I would like to say I broke away from those dark ages the next year but the exile from peers followed me through middle school. Luckily I was blessed to have met a few people in my 8th grade year who accepted my crazy artistic tendencies and appreciated that I was different, and by the time I entered high school I realized that what I had going on was what everyone so desperately needed. In middle school if you’re different, you’re automatically and alien from another planet and no one on this earth would dare say a word to something or someone so strange. But in high school being different is your ticket into a cool interesting category of existence. Suddenly I was unique which makes you enticing, everyone wants a piece. I tried to put this picture behind me but somehow it sprung back up out of no where about 5 years later when I was a junior in high school.

I had invited some new “cooler” friends over to my house. I step out for a second, and while I was gone, the two girls had found the photo from my 6th grade graduation, after hearing a burst of laughter come from behind the door. Of course I went along with it and we started to talk about how I look like the killer from psycho or I’m scouting out some children to abduct with those beady eyes of mine. Actually making fun of the photo made me ok with it, because I know that I’ve grown far from the dark-ages of this picture. The friend who found the photo asked if she could keep it she loved it so much, I told her I would get it to her later.

By the end of my senior year, I was packing away my life and getting ready to leave Hawaii for New York City and I came across the photo again. I looked at it and had a little laugh to myself remembering the day those two girls (who i can now consider best friends of mine) came over and praised it for its awkward vibes. I took a frame and stuck the photo in it so I could give it to that friend who asked for it a year ago. I also kept copies for myself, so I can remember to always embrace who I am and every phase of my life. Everything you are can be used to build you up or break you down, it’s all up to you.

Now I’m living 20 minutes away from Manhattan and working as a sales associate at American Apparel. I love my job and modeling the new collections we have in store, while I assist customers and maintain sales. I’m also planning on going to school in the spring to get an AA in Human Services. I’m thankful for the support I’ve had in this transition from a small island town to grounding myself here in New York City. I love New York and the people here, but I’ll be sure to keep my old embarrassing photos in one place just in case new friends would like to see some “before and afters”. This time checking out that 6th grade graduation photo it’ll be on my call. ;)

Leave a comment