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No matter where you live, being a 15-year-old girl can be tough. For some girls, it’s a fight for independence, the fight to be first in class, or even the fight to win a boy’s heart.

For others, it’s a fight to stay safe from deadly gang violence, the fight against being trapped in an early marriage, or the fight to play sports considered off limits for girls.

During the month of October, NPR Goats and Soda is on a mission to capture the collective experience of being 15 around the world through social media. This action is part of #15Girls, a series about girls who take risks, break rules and defy stereotypes to create a better life for themselves. The objective: Connect you, our audience, with these girls by sharing your own stories.

Read all the #15Girls stories here

We’re asking you to post a photo of yourself as a teen, with the answer to this question: What was the hardest thing about being 15?

We welcome submissions from everyone. No answer is too big or too small — everyone has a story to tell.

Share your answers on Twitter or Instagram by tagging @NPR with the hashtag #15Girls. Make sure to include your name, location and current age, and if you’re posting a group photo, tell us which person you are.

Share Your Story: What Was The Hardest Thing About Being 15?

Photos: Courtesy of Yasmine San Pedro, Malaka Gharib, Vesta Partovi, Khadija Ahmad, Raliya Nura, Encarni Pindado for NPR

The Deal With Tumblr

If you’re reading this, you probably use Tumblr. Congrats! You’re one of over 420 million users. I am too. I’ve been using the microblogging website actively for over five years now. That’s just one year less than NPR has (thanks for keeping us on top of the game, Wright).

Tumblr is my favorite social platform. (If you need convincing as to why it’s relevant: it’s also the fastest growing one, according to Global Web Index research from last year). I like it because it helps me discover stuff I care about — be it information, art, ideas, writing, cute mammals. I’ve also learned a lot of things from Tumblr, things I arguably should have learned about first in school. No, I did not rely on the Internet for my bachelor’s degree. But it would also be wrong to say it didn’t play a definitive role in shaping my interests, feeding my intellect and sparking my passion for civic engagement. I know my sister (who’s what they’re now calling Gen Z), as well as my similarly generationed friends, would agree. Tumblr rocks. It’s beneficial and fun. Like your really cool friend who’s always on top of things and makes you think and laugh a ton.

So why am I going on about this? Wright asked me to give some thought to the future of our main NPR Tumblr. Also, I got in a tiff with another intern last month about the legitimacy of social media as a news source. Our consensus: it’s requisite and relevant for the general news consumer, but ~serious journalists~ will, as they should, be skeptical first and confirm information via reliable sources.

Like a mega creeper, I spent last month looking at competitors and thinking about what we should be doing with our Tumblr moving forward. Here’s what I came up with.

What NPR does now:

We push our great digital content. We mix it up with

They’re mixed pretty evenly between all npr.org topics.

We reblog NPR shows/desks and member station content.

  • This  supports our intra-Tumblr community**
  • It’s also great for cross-promotion between shows/desks that have large followings in and of themselves. (skunkbearfresh air — looking at you)

** This could potentially be a bad thing, however, if we have too many NPR-related Tumblrs. It could spread our brand too thin, making us seem clunky and difficult to keep track of.

We reblog other Tumblrs we follow.

  • It’s where we source most of what I’m going to call “fun stuff,” which is a big part of Tumblr.
  • We always sign our reblogs to keep us — the curators — human, accountable (and hopefully hilarious).

What we don’t do as much, and I think should be done more:

We should reblog and engage with our followers.

(Here, they’ve reblogged a follower’s reblog of their post, because it was funny. This is the greatest nod of acknowledgement to the follower. Tumblr is all about reblogging. Also, I really dig their Overheard at the Washington Post series.)

That brings me to,

We should tap more into gifs, memes, and TTT (Tumblr trending things) —all important parts of the culture of Tumblr.


  • We can incorporate these into our reblogs and engagements.

(This GIF-off is an A+ example of this. If we’re doing it on Facebook, we should do it on Tumblr!)

We should have more fun, without losing our integrity.

  • This is pretty self explanatory. We don’t want our followers to think we aren’t a ~serious news blog~. People expect a certain approach from us and we want to remain true to that identity. That being said, each social platform is different and we should definitely adapt our voice and presence to each one. I think it would do us well to make our Tumblr a bit more Tumblr-y. We’re always going to have npr.org and Facebook for straight pushes of our content. If we play our cards right and tailor appropriately, I suspect the Tumblr community will love us even more than they already do.

- Vesta

This hugging is really strange in this country. I come to school here and no one hugs. No men hug. Everyone is hugging here. I go back, from Lewis & Clark to Fletcher School, and back to Iran. I come to visit my host family here. We greet and he hugs me. WOOOWWWW. Hugging. WE DON’T HUG. MEN don’t hug.
—  Cyrus Partovi, Middle East Politics, Lewis & Clark College