“Make your mistakes loud.” Ever since I joined choir in fifth grade, I remember our choir teachers advising us to not back down for fear of messing up, but it was not until high school that I truly realized the depth of this advice.

The theater was packed with over 200 people. It was my first major choir solo and my heart was beating so loud, I felt like it was about to jump out of my chest. In the middle of singing the first line, I realized that I couldn’t remember the starting words of the next line.

However, in that split-second I decided to not stop, making up words for the next two lines. I knew that if I was standing there as a middle-schooler, I would’ve stood frozen in the middle of the song. I realized afterwards that no one had even noticed that I had sung the wrong lyrics. As ironic as it may seem, my choir teacher told me after the concert that I had made my mistake so “loudly” that no one could even hear it.

Self-confidence is something that I now consider one of my greatest assets, but this wasn’t always the case. In fact, since I was a young girl, I have struggled with being confident in myself. Whether it be trying out for an a cappella audition, asking questions in class, or even raising my hand to respond to a question, my mind would be clouded with fear. I used to be afraid of expressing my opinion for fear that others won’t agree. What if everyone laughs at me? What if my answer is wrong?

Later in my freshman year, the strong desire to break the limiting chains of self-doubt made me receptive to my choir teacher’s encouraging words. I started becoming more comfortable with auditioning for solos. Choir became the medium through which I started to break out of my shell. Much beyond a haven where I could freely express myself, choir became a place that encouraged me to face my fears, rather than hide from them.

Progressively and consciously, the confidence I gained from choir translated beyond the music room itself. It gave me a voice. It instilled in me a character of quiet confidence to view challenges as opportunities. I have come to realize that my voice is only as powerful as I want it to be. Whether it be a Socratic circle or a language arts debate, I’ve become the girl who is confident in what she has to say and who doesn’t simply agree with an opposing viewpoint to avoid confrontation. As a matter of fact, I am now the girl whose hand is first to shoot up during a debate or an audition. Now as a first-year in college, I’m so grateful to have a fresh start to truly put myself out there.

Self-confidence often changes other people’s perception of you. Honestly, it shouldn’t even matter what other people think.