How high school gave me a voice

How high school gave me a voice

Madison Umina, Managing Editor

I used to never talk.

When I was young, my parents would force me to speak louder when I ordered from menus while I sat in sheer horror, worrying that the waiter would hear something embarrassing slip from my mouth. I never approached kids during recess, the fear of rejection from more popular or cooler kids hanging over my young mind. Always self-conscious about my general presence, I sought to hide, eventually reaching a point of seclusion. And I was only a kid.

Of course, I had friends. I maintained very few, but strong, relationships — one of which I still have today. I met Joci when I was three, and without her constant bubbly, outgoing personality in my life, I may have always remained in my shy little shell.

Sometimes my personality would break through when I had an idea that just begged to leak out. I remember hosting talent shows in third grade and participating in local theater and dance productions, which I now realize were early signs that I would not always live a quiet life. I always felt most comfortable expressing myself, however, by writing my thoughts (a habit that obviously has not died). Developing stories as a kindergartener, I vaguely knew my whole life that I connected with a pen and paper in a way that I struggled connecting with people. Their facial expressions and potential reactions could always have disappointed me or interrupted me. On paper, I could let my feelings flow without the fear of immediate, potential judgment.

I joined Lantern my freshman year with the notion that it would serve as a place for me to write. While this was correct, I had no idea that it would play a major role in transforming my social abilities. Surrounded by older kids and being forced to go out and interview strangers, Lantern placed me in situations I would have never willingly entered. The new environment allowed me to feel comfortable and even enjoy talking with new people. In fact, I loved it so much that I decided I could do this as a job. Combining my love to write with my newfound interest in speaking with others to learn their unique stories, I will study in Boston this fall to pursue a career in journalism. And to think I used to be so afraid of people . . . now I will live in a big city for the next four years.

I know I probably didn’t get to know many of you since I was so quiet for a while. But once I started talking (too loudly as some now say), I feel really grateful to have learned more about this class the past few years. We have experienced so many wonderful memories together, and it will be really weird to not see everybody every day. We all probably grew so accustomed to that. Thank you to everyone who has helped me grow.