Miranda Dworkin (’24)
April 10, 2023
It’s still dark and early in the morning when Miranda Dworkin (‘24) takes out her journal, putting pencil onto paper and her thoughts into words. Each day, before school, she takes time to jot down ten things she’s grateful for and ten things she’s excited about, to set the tone for the day ahead.
“When I’m excited for something I’m more motivated to get up and go for [my goals],” says Dworkin. For Dworkin, journaling is a way to become more present and more grounded, to live her life to the fullest and do the things that bring her joy.
One such thing is basketball, which Dworkin has been playing since she was four years old. When she was seven or eight years old, Dworkin participated in a Little League basketball program, then progressed to playing for the Beck Middle School team and East’s team in her freshman and sophomore year. Although she has taken a break from high school basketball this year, Dworkin continues to get on the court by playing in the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU), a local recreational basketball league.
“I love how [basketball] just takes my mind off things, like when I play I’m kind of in the state of mind where I’m not worried about anything else besides [the game],” said Dworkin.
If she’s not on the basketball court, Dworkin can be found curled up with a good book. When asked what her favorite book was, the avid reader had to take a minute to think, before settling on Taylor Jenkins Reid’s Daisy Jones and the Six as one of her top picks. A self-proclaimed hopeless romantic, Dworkin especially adores reading romance books. Currently, she’s reading Defy Me, the third novel in the Shatter Me series by Tahereh Mafi. Like with basketball, Dworkin finds that reading provides an escape from the stress of daily life, allowing her to become immersed in a whole new world.
Though she’s been a reader ever since she was young, Dworkin says it wasn’t until recently that she truly and fully fell in love with reading. Last year, she started going to Barnes and Nobles to study and found herself gravitating towards books again.
“I would just look around at the books a little bit and I kind of just fell back in love with reading again,” said Dworkin. “I just had this moment where I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is so much fun. This is so underrated.’”
Inspired by her love for reading, Dworkin and two friends, Grace Ewing (‘24) and Holly Cowan (‘24), started a Book Club at East, where students collectively select a book to read and discuss at meetings. The club is in the middle of The Song of Achilles, the popular Greek mythology novel by Madeline Miller.
With her busy life in and out of school, Dworkin has found that journaling is what allows her to destress.
“I’ve done a lot of reflecting and what I’ve learned from journaling is that I’m good at putting things into perspective, once they’re down on paper,” said Dworkin. “It’s so much less chaotic in my mind. And it really helps me and I think I’ve noticed that recently. And so, whenever my friends open up to me, I always find that I’m good at putting their feelings into words, putting things into perspective and untangling the thoughts.”
On a deeper level, journaling is a way for Dworkin to become more comfortable with her feelings. Like many other students, Dworkin has experienced the stigma on mental health and the idea that it’s not normal to feel stressed or overwhelmed or upset at times.
“I feel like all my life I’ve just had this inner thought that’s telling me it’s not okay to be insecure about your appearance or your personality,” said Dworkin. “That it’s not okay to be upset. It’s not okay to be stressed. But at the end of the day, it’s okay to feel those types of things. It’s just a matter of what you do with those feelings.”
By putting her thoughts into words, she is able to fully acknowledge those feelings, instead of keeping it bottled up. Furthermore, Dworkin also has gotten into the habit of making a gratitude list each morning, as well as a list of things she is looking forward to, which she says has made a world of difference in improving her outlook on each day.
As teenagers, we often find ourselves looking outwards, from worrying about what others think of us to comparing ourselves to unattainable standards and letting others dictate who we are. Yet, as Dworkin has found, there is so much fulfillment to be found by simply taking a look around and being grateful for the little joys in life, whether it’s making early morning runs to Dunkin Donuts, coloring with her younger sisters, exploring Philadelphia’s Old City, or jamming out on her ukelele. With a pen in hand and a journal at her desk, she’s writing her own life story, step by step.