Usually, when someone tells the story of their brand on said brand’s anniversary, the story is about the brand, but I’ve never been conventional, and I’m not about to start now. Teenntimes’ story is my story, we are one and the same, it is me and I am it, and now, I think it’s about time I start ranting.
6 years ago, I started counseling due to bullying and familial issues, things were not okay.
5 years ago, I was suffering from depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts. I also fell in love for the first time, with someone who was very toxic to me.
4 years ago, I started therapy alongside counseling, it was too much pressure on me, I was failing school, no one understood anything I tried to say, no one knew how horrible the battle in my head was. Said love, left. I fell in love again, this time, for a long time.
3 years ago, I found solace in writing, I was told I was good, I had quit therapy because I was sick of not getting results, writing it all out somehow made everything lighter, somewhat less of a burden.
2 years ago, I started writing my first book and published it online, with each chapter I wrote, the support grew, and I grew with it. I started applying for every single magazine and blog in the whole of Egypt and a few abroad, I was rejected by them all, “you’re too young”, “you need more practice”, “what good can a sixteen year old do anyway?” I was devastated. I was also dealing with denial of my anorexic symptoms, which later developed into a binge eating disorder.
1 year ago, I was accepted in an internship at Scoop Empire, the then editor in chief – Kurt Galalah – believed in me when no one else did and taught me a lot. I was still tired, I knew I was nearing the end of four years of a toxic one-sided love (on my part), I was tired of feeling like I were not good enough. One week of intense non-stop research later + my own limited but profound journalistic experience and passion for storytelling led me to launching teenntimes, I was not expecting it to work…at all.
People came and went, teenntimes evolved as the people who made up its team evolved and changed. One thing I hate that I love about being a startup is turnover, the first 3 years of any startup will never have even 1 stable ongoing team member, everyone comes and goes, some come back, but most don’t. Every single person who came and left taught me something and contributed to the growth of teenntimes not just as a blog or a brand, but as a community too. Teenntimes grew each month, fights broke out, debates were sparked on groups, some posts healed, and some posts gave one hell of a hurtful reality check. As the only constant person since the start I can definitely tell you people loosened up, the first period post ever received so much hate, now period posts are welcomed because we’ve kickstarted de-stigmatizing menstruation, the same goes to Revenge Porn, K’s first article about nudes transformed into a whole series by Hagar Ibrahim. Y’all grew and we grew with you. Y’all spoke out, and we listened and patted you on the back. Y’all braved your demons, and we admired your strength. I know many more people wish to speak out but I’m still proud of them despite them having not, because in their hearts they feel the need to break free from the chains of shame and oppression. For the longest time, media in Egypt has lacked the presence and voice of teens, but not anymore. With your help and support we now collaborate with The Daily Crisp, Egypt’s leading wellness magazine. There’s so much more to come.
A year ago, when I launched teenntimes, I was prepping for my IB back to school mocks, yes, I started at my senior year and second year of IB – at Hayah. I was most definitely not the only senior carrying around teenntimes’ weight with school and graduation, there was Farah and Zeina too and they were both IG students. We’re all now successfully graduated and hitting university. We, writers, myself, and you, have been through so much together, interviews, events, fighting the feminist fight, pointing towards Cairo’s food hotspots, listening to killer playlists, and most importantly, bonding as humans and realizing that we have pretty similar interests. Posting everyday, finding people who have my vision, posting music, quotes, and more – has been tremendously difficult, but not a day goes by that your support and love and messages have not driven me and the writers forward. It is YOUR platform as much as it is mine. I started this alone, but we built this together, teenagers. I don’t know about you guys but I’m definitely raising my coffee mug up in salute of each and every one of you. But, here’s a little thing to everyone who sent me and us hate over some of our content due to whatever reasons:
Yes, we talk about sex, we’re a sexually educated people. Yes, we accept people who are gay, lesbian, bi, trans, pan, aromantic, asexual, etc. Yes, we accept people who are of different religions or atheists. Yes, we accept people from all social and financial standings. Yes, we accept people of all ethnicities, shapes, sizes, and skin colours. Yes, we accept people who are mentally ill. Yes, we accept people who are disabled. Yes, we accept people who drink and do drugs. Yes, we accept people who have premarital sex and people who masturbate. Yes, we accept all people, because people are human and we are human too. Why should skin color, gender, sex, sexuality, habits, ethnicity, disability, or mental illness matter? You are human, we are human. Thus, we hold kindness in our hearts for you. We will never turn you away. We will never judge you. Everyone has the right to live their own lives however they please, just because we are against something someone does, does not give us the right to judge or discriminate against them for it. It’s either we say something kind, we stay silent, or we objectively educate. BUT. We will never tolerate people who are abusive. We will never tolerate rapists, harassers, FGM-enforcers, homophobes, transphobes, dictators, sexual offenders, pedophiles, torturers, racists, sexists, body-shame-rs or ANYONE who judges, discriminates, or holds hate in their heart for any human based on any of the aforementioned qualities.
Teenntimes stands for what I stand for and vice versa. We stand for respect. We stand for compassion. We stand for mercy. We stand for humanity. Just like I pushed through the hate, we all did too. Teenntimes was born out of all the bullshit I went through, that you probably went through too. It’s the blog for relationship talk, sexual education, beauty, lifestyle, entertainment, mental illness, feminism, and your own stories. This is me, this is you, this is us. It’s “what should I eat today?” and “will he blackmail me with the nudes and/or sexts?” It’s “I need new books/series” and “will she ever love me back?” It’s “what diy face masks should I try next?” and “what is sexual harassment?” It’s also everything in between. It’s childhood and adulthood intertwined. It’s a reflection of the awkward phase we call “teen years”.
This entire rant is just to tell you, it will all work out in the end. No matter how “weird” you are. No matter how bad it is. It will work out. Have faith in yourself. Your abilities. Your knowledge. Work on yourself. For yourself. Invest your time, energy, and effort in you. The only investment that can never bite you in the ass later on in life is your investment in you. I know getting out of bed is hard. I know quitting a bad habit is hell. I know trying to make your parents understand is a war on its own. I know you feel tired, stressed, lonely, anxious, ugly, not good enough, and unloved. I know you feel like it will never end. I know how much you do not believe in happiness or in love. I will not tell you these feelings will one day leave you forever because they won’t, I will not tell you it gets easier, because it gets harder actually, but here’s the thing; life is not a straight line heading downwards, nor is it a straight line heading upwards, it’s a tangled mess of crazy ups, downs, turns, curves, and more. Sadness is fleeting, happiness is fleeting, anger is fleeting, patience is fleeting, don’t hold on to anything or anyone, everything comes to an end. Accept the nature of life, take the joy when it comes, bask in it, take the sadness when it comes, bask in it too, but always remind yourself to breathe. I’ve never been a fan of either optimism or pessimism, I’m a realist at heart. When you die, you die alone. You can die having lived your whole life throwing hate upon hate at yourself and others, having lived a slave to your hatred and victimization. Or you can die having lived, joyfully, sadly, and fully, a life full of compassion, love, and strength. You can die a seedling or you can die a fruitful tree. You choose which way to live. Success is relative and there’s no one way to be a successful person, but it all starts with one decision, and it’s the decision to try.
I’ll end this with a little note about the blog:
As of today, my little blog has over 480 articles published, 370,000 views, and 119,000 visitors. I’d say every missed outing, every fight, every night I spent working and studying instead of having fun was worth it. It’s worth the sense of community we’ve created, it’s all worth it because it means we’ve all contributed to making a space full of support, compassion, acceptance, kindness, and love – a space free of judgement, discrimination, bullying, abuse, toxicity, and hate. A place where we can simply be teens, but most importantly, humans. I am humbled to have been a part of your journey and proud that you’ve been part of mine.
This blog would not have made it this far without 5 of my longest standing friends and members/ex-members Farah Desouky, Zeina Amr, Zeinah Hesham, Hanna Haitham and Mostafa El Said. Thank you for always driving me forward and for trusting in me.
Here’s to more time together.
Sending lots of gratitude, respect, and love your way,