Speak Up and Accept Yourself

Maria - Beaverton, Oregon
Entered on September 19, 2008
Age Group: Under 18
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I believe that before you can be comfortable around other people, you have to learn to be comfortable with yourself.

I have always been the “quiet” one. Lots of times people overlooked me just because I didn’t talk. It’s not that I was shy, exactly, it’s just that I never knew what to say and I was afraid that if I did say something it would come out wrong. I was never really comfortable with myself, and as a result I had trouble relating to people.

I think the first time I really noticed how much my quietness affected me was when I started middle school. Most of my group of friends was split into different schools, leaving me with a few people who I had known forever but no best friend. I have never made friends easily, but I did meet people and over time grew closer to some of them. I also grew closer to the people I knew from elementary school. But I was still the shy one, the one who people never really thought about or sought out to talk to. I always felt that everyone else was prettier than I was, more outgoing, more fun to be with, and it prevented me from relaxing. These thoughts weren’t always at the front of my mind, but they were always there.

Then the end of eighth grade came. I spent that whole summer with a knot in my stomach. I thought that ninth grade would be the end of my having any friends: how would I find anybody in such a huge school?

But on freshman orientation day I got my schedule and figured out that I had a lot of classes with people I knew. I also made friends with a girl who was in my group, and found out we were both in band and the same study hall. I came home from the orientation day with a smile on my face, the knot in my stomach mostly gone.

I became really good friends with the girl I met during freshman orientation; today she is one of my best friends. I also grew much closer to a girl who I had been close to since elementary school but had never felt fully comfortable around. I met a lot of new people that year, and though I am still not the most talkative person of the bunch I am no longer afraid to speak my mind.

Before I had been timid because I was afraid of what other people would think. I was always comparing myself to somebody and finding myself lacking in one way or another. But that year I learned that I was just as good as everyone else. I found someone who I was really comfortable around, and that made me more outgoing. I traded my glasses for contacts which made me more confident. I made new friends and met some people who I would never have talked to before, and that made me realize that not everyone is judging you. I stopped envying other people and started believing in myself.