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Sometimes I feel like I am not allowed to speak my thoughts. Excitement and pride that would usually follow after an achievement or just a genuinely good day only last for seconds. The spiraling thoughts in my head never seem to stop. I would start a sentence and end it with apprehension, because I am afraid.

I am not afraid of people or of the contents of my words, but of the realization that the weight of my words can implicate others. I realize that I tend to doubt myself. Whenever people ask me for my opinion, I am afraid that my words, whether right or wrong, will lead them astray. This mentality probably first manifested during the times I spent with my older cousin. Being the older and wiser of the two of us, she was the only one capable of speaking in my stead when I could not. She was one of the few people who I admired because of her overflowing confidence. Her spontaneous reactions to a question or a topic of any sort always led to good conversations.

My cousin taught me that answering a question based on your guts, can actually benefit more than hurt you. Before I even realized it, I was using that advice and started to frequently participate in class. My voice seemed to be able to clearly reach out to an audience just the way I imagined it to.

Though with issues between families, I saw her a few times in the week rather than everyday. After that, she did not show up at all. The gap between us affected me mentally. I felt like there was no one else that I could hold random conversations and joke with once I came home from school.

From that point on, words that would usually spill out of me without boundaries were now being suppressed by a boulder of self-doubt. I felt lost in a sense and did not know what to do next without her guidance. Whether it be the words that I speak or the thoughts in my head, I gradually lost the confidence I used to maintain. Things would suddenly take a wrong turn, smiles would shift into disappointed frowns, and whatever grasp I had on my confidence had slipped away almost instantly.

As time progressed, I gave myself less and less permission to speak my thoughts; I was afraid of what my words may lead to. It would feel as if I had committed a crime, and I didn’t want to hold the pressure of being at fault.

With my pessimistic way of thinking, I always underestimated my decision-making and speaking abilities. Recently, I have been actively voicing out my opinions without those silly thoughts restraining me, and I have been fully enjoying those moments. Even as I do not think I will get rid of of this mentality entirely anytime soon, I hope starting from now, I will be able to follow my cousin’s advice even without her nearby and allow myself to loosen up just a little bit more.

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