13 years ago.

I sat on the worn carpet in the basement, attempting to connect a series of wooden train tracks together. On the TV, a news anchor shared that a young girl in our county had recently been abducted. The toys dropped from my tiny palms and I drew closer to the screen. As the story continued, a picture of a child, one about my age, appeared. A search and rescue team would soon be leaving. Although I did not fully comprehend what was happening, a sinking feeling settled in my heart.

My parents often pull out this story at family dinners in order to highlight my compassionate nature. Apparently I had insisted we go and join the search for the missing child. While I do not recall the words I said, the heavy feeling that moved in with my heart that day made its home there. Every once in a while, a headline will pop up that awakens that heavy feeling. I feel as helpless as a 5-year-old with her hand held up to a static covered television set -- dying to help, but unable to do so.

Whether another suicide bomber strikes in the Middle East, a rapist gets off without dealing with the consequences of his actions or another child goes missing, I cannot help but feel a physical reaction. I long to see justice served and loved ones reunited. Somehow, I feel solely responsible to set all things right in this broken world. When I witness things that need to be fixed, I long to do so. This is not possible, however, and it has taken an emotional toll on me time and time again.

As I get older, the news is either getting increasingly tragic, or I am simply becoming increasingly more aware of the horrific things going on in the world. Either way, the burden of caring too much is beginning to become to heavy for me to bear. In the face of a world in which negative news is the norm, how can I react to the news in a constructive way?

While, as an 18 year old girl, I am unable to single-handedly fight off terrorist groups overseas, I still can make a positive difference in the world. Just because I cannot change the world by myself does not mean I am unable to channel my passionate feelings for the better. By sharing my intolerance for unjust situations, others may start to view news differently or begin to share their own opinions. I may also find others who share a heavy heart for headlines. Though we may be small on our own, united, we can sing for change in one voice, until the whole world hears.

If you too feel hopelessly disheartened by the waves of tragic news, I assure you that you do not stand alone. I encourage you to step up, speak your mind and raise your voice. The sooner you do, the sooner a storm of change will overtake the sea of despair.