What Was Being 15 Like For You? Women Around The World Are Sharing Their Stories, And It's So Powerful


15 is a big year. You're on the cusp of adulthood, navigating relationships with friends and family, and learning to act much more independently than ever before. NPR is exploring the ways girls around the world tackle the challenges they face at 15, and they're encouraging girls and women to share their stories under the hashtag #15girls.

The project highlights the vast range of challenges 15-year-olds face. Most girls express concerns about school, but while some worry about getting a good SAT score, others worry about having to leave school because of forced marriage. The Malala Fund has even shared stories of girls who have faced challenges getting to school.

Take a look at some of the stories girls and women shared below.


The hardest thing about being 15 was the immense pressure to get the right grades, get the right SAT score, get to the right college. This photo was taken when I was 15 on a family trip to New York City. Looking back at this now as a 29-year-old, all I can remember is how worried I was about getting into Columbia. I didn't get in. #15girls @npr
#15GIRLS @NPR  My name is Khadija Ahmad. I am fifteen years old and have completed my junior secondary school education. The hardest thing for me being fifteen is the fear of not being allowed to continue my education. Since I am fifteen and have completed at least junior secondary school, I am afraid that my parents may give my hand out in marriage if there is any marriage proposal so I do my best to face my studies and also teach my younger ones so my parents see how devoted I am to my education and allow me proceed to a senior secondary school.
"The hardest thing about being 15 was dealing with the feeling of uncertainty. I wanted to be somebody, but didn't realize that I was already somebody in the makings. I pined for adulthood, but missed just being a kid. My parents are Vietnamese Boat People Refugees. Even though my parents didn't always "get" me, they supported me the best way they could in a new country they call home. When I was 15, I realized that in order for our family to get out of poverty, I needed to take school more seriously. So, I did. Today, my sister and I are first generation high school graduates, now PhD students. #15girls@npr"
"At 15, being a sophomore in high school, was SO difficult; I thought I'd share and encourage other strong ladies out there to share too❤️ The hardest thing about being 15 was failing to understand that humans are deeply flawed; even the people you love and care about most (including yourself) will hurt and disappoint you. Processing the emotions that go with that will be difficult and tiring and painful but not impossible. Don't be afraid to feel and don't hurt/numb yourself because you think feeling things is wrong -- it's not. It's called being a human. Shoutout to all the girls currently raising hell thanks in part to the hell that was year 15 🙌🏽 #15girls"
"The hardest thing about being 15 was realizing that I wasn't alone.I wasn't the only working class kid who struggled with self-esteem and hated their parents.I wasn't the only girl who wanted to be smart, but still wished she were pretty.I wasn't the only person with acne, or the only person who lied about their jean size.I wasn't the only one who lost a loved one, or the only one who grew up with domestic violence.I wasn't alone, and at 15, I found that terrifying.@npr #15girls"
"Salam, Syria, 15 years old 'The hardest thing about being 15 as a Syrian refugee is that I should be in high school now but I can't because I haven't finished elementary school yet.' @NPR #15Girls"


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