We Are America

Voices of the Nation's Future

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There was a time when I felt lost about how to connect with others and myself. The feeling of having friends seemed distant for me. In elementary school, I watched my classmates hang around on the monkey bars and have the best times of their lives. One day, I questioned myself, how can I become confident? Then I sought to find the answer to my question. I asked myself what my interests were and what makes me different from other people. When I was younger, I did not like socializing with other kids. I was a very shy girl who feared change and felt insecure. Luckily, my mom noticed this about me. She helped me walk out of my comfort zone by signing me up for different activities, such as learning musical instruments and weekend school.  Around the age of seven, my mom took me to my first piano class. Through- out elementary school, I improved my piano skills and grew an interest in playing it. Spring then came along, and my piano teacher announced that I could participate in the Spring Recital. Afterwards, he gave me a new piece  to learn and master, telling me that I would perform greatly. Feeling motivated, I went home thinking that I could master this piece and play it in front of a crowd flawlessly. On the day of the recital, I kept calculating all the possible things that could go wrong even though I could play the piece with no mistakes at home. The person before me finished their piece, and it was my turn to play. I walked up to the piano with fear, and my heart felt like it was being dragged out of my circulatory system. I set my wrists on top of the keys and my fingers started playing. As I started, I became immersed in the music, and something clicked in my brain. I ended the piece with confidence and made no mistakes. At that moment, when I lifted my fingers from the piano, I realized that my confidence had increased.  I was given another opportunity to increase my confidence at Chinese School. Every Saturday, I was forced to speak and interact with my class- mates while learning the target language. Did I enjoy it at first? No, not really. Did I learn to enjoy it? Yes, in fact I did and still do! At the very beginning, I felt intimidated seeing the other girls talking and laughing with each other. The next school year, I made a promise to myself that I would talk to the rest of the girls in my class. In fact, I’ve met friends that I still talk to today, even though they left the program. Every Saturday, I looked forward to talking to them. They made class so much more fun and interesting. After getting to know them more over time, I finally felt included, which felt great!  Having confidence increases our self-esteem and helps develop a positive mindset. The best part of having confidence is that it motivates us to do our best and put ourselves out of our comfort zone. Confidence makes you feel unique in your own way. I’m grateful for experiencing activities that in- creased my confidence and social skills. I found my interests, learned how to start and continue conversations, met a lot of different people, and made unforgettable memories. Now, I’m not afraid to approach teachers when I have questions, or talk to strangers when I’m in public. I’ve convinced my- self that if I work hard, I’ll be able to succeed. I believe my childhood turned out extra special. The person I am today would be a whole different person if I didn’t step out of my comfort zone. 

© Serena Chen. All rights reserved. If you are interested in quoting this story, contact the national team through this website and we can put you in touch with the young person’s teacher.