September 2017 Blogger of the Month: Hilary Guo

I am pleased to introduce our newest blogger of the month, which comes at a fitting time because it is also her one-year anniversary blogging on Youth Are Awesome! Since September 2016, Hilary Guo has written delightful and humorous posts ranging a variety of topics, from personal opinions, to creative writing, to modern trends! Her cheerful spirit is infectious, and I had a great time chatting with her over iced coffee and kouign-amanns at Analog Coffee!

Hilary is starting grade 10 at Dr. E.P. Scarlett High School, and she’s excited for all of the new opportunities to participate in sports and clubs in comparison to junior high. Her flourishing extracurricular involvements include basketball, swimming, sailing, piano, volunteering, taekwondo, and of course, writing! Youth Are Awesome was the perfect opportunity for her to practice writing outside of school: “I love to write, but I don’t really have a chance to write often besides English class in school. I thought YAA would be a good experience to improve my writing skills”. Since then, Hilary has become comfortably immersed in blogging and gave a heartwarming answer when I asked about how her experience with YAA has been thus far:

“It’s a lot more laid-back. Meeting new people was nerve wracking at first, but the meetings are really fun and all of the bloggers talk freely. YAA has given me a better experience in being part of activities in Calgary, and I love being part of the community.”

For her posts, Hilary doesn’t draw writing inspiration from anything specific, but she loves to read. Although her preference has long been in the favor of fiction books, Hilary has lately also been reading some non-fiction as well. In particular, her favorite fiction series is Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs, while her favorite non-fiction books are Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand and With the Old Breed by Eugene Sledge.

As for her favorite movies, Hilary enthusiastically mentioned Saving Private Ryan, Hacksaw Ridgeand the recently-released Dunkirk. She also immediately named X Company and HBO’s Band of Brothers as her favorite TV shows. See a trend yet? Hilary is very passionate about history and I was blown away at her appreciation and her profound understanding in the topic:

“Millennials don’t pay a lot of attention to it now; they think about the future and don’t truly appreciate historical events. For Dunkirk, a lot of people just went to go see Harry Styles, but there’s also the history behind it that deserves more attention.”

I could definitely relate when Hilary mentioned that she went through a phase in Junior high: namely an obession with boy bands and dystopian-themed books. Hilary started to truly become interested in history at the beginning of the year, and it’s impressive how much knowledge she has gained in that amount of time!

Hilary often weaves her interest in history into her posts, and she eagerly talked about her favorite era when I mentioned her most recent post about the 80s and how I just watched Easy A the previous week– a movie where she pulled a quote from to epitomize her overall message. We both agreed that it would be great to revert back on those historical trends, and Hilary specifically mentioned the 40s and the 80s as her favorite eras– although due to the racial prejudice in 1940s America, she ultimately would like to live in the 80s.

When asked about her personal writing style, Hilary says she doesn’t restrict herself and just writes about what she would read if she wasn’t a part of YAA: funny topics, suggestions, opinions– nothing too serious. Sure enough, Hilary’s down-to-earth tone makes her posts funny and relatable: some prime examples include her clever interjection of “faker than Kylie Jenner’s lips!” in her poem Paperher hilarious answers to popular [but pretty ridiculous] Google searches, and her incredibly relatable rant about school starting. I asked her, “What is something we should know about you?” and Hilary directed me to her posts:

“I’m like an open book and I express myself in all of my posts.”

Personally, Hilary’s posts are inspiring because that quality of sincerity and honesty is something that I strive to have in my writing as well.

At the same time, Hilary handles more serious subject matter really well; when I noted her John Green-esque style in writing short stories, Hilary confirmed that she did read Looking for Alaska and Paper Towns in Junior High. I think this is what makes Hilary such a valuable asset to Youth Are Awesome: any reader will be able to connect with her posts because of her ability to write about a wide variety of subjects.

However, out of all of the posts that Hilary has written so far, her favorite has to be A Playlist for Every Month; Hilary particularly enjoys using photoshop to make photo edits, but this post also let her share her love for music:

“I have a diverse music taste. I listen to a lot of different genres, and it was one of the most fun posts to make. Even before I joined YAA, when I was thinking about my first blog post, I thought: ‘This is going to be it.'”

Hilary’s playlist and photo edit for September!

Hilary’s music taste is highly acclaimed in the Youth Are Awesome group, so go check that post out! I was curious about how Hilary finds all of these songs for her playlist, and she has an entire process. Hilary usually starts by looking through comments to find the song title of the background music for a certain video. After searching it up, she takes advantage of the “Similar Artists” and “Related Videos” features on Spotify and Youtube. Then she repeats the process and lets the website lead her somewhere!

Just like her exploration in finding new music, Hilary doesn’t currently have any specific aspirations for her future:

“I’ll go with the flow for now, and when I’m older, I’ll see what fits me. I just have to see what kind of person I become in the future.”

Too often are high school students pressured to already know their exact career aspirations, but Hilary’s plan of action is great advice for those who are worried and unsure of their future; high school is a prime time for discovery, so it’s important to keep an open mind towards new things! Hilary echoed this advice as parting thoughts to all of our readers, where she left some brief but powerful words:

“It might be cliche, but just be yourself. Be what you want to be and stop living up to other people’s expectations.”

This is a message that recurred throughout my conversation with Hilary, from her blog post ideas, to her passion for history, to her career aspirations. I would like to thank Hilary for her time and contribution to YAA: her open mindset, willingness to try new things, and cheerful demeanor are all incredibly inspiring and valued in Youth Are Awesome! Congratulations to Hilary for the well-deserved Blogger of the Month!

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