I was nine years old, standing in front of a sea of people, expected to sing a solo. My entire body was frozen, adrenaline coursing through my veins. All I saw were faces and, right in front of me, the microphone, waiting. I opened my mouth, but I was forgetting how to breathe.

Photo by Kane Reinholdtsen on Unsplash

A lack of self-confidence can be extremely damaging to your sense of self. Someone who naturally struggles with this (which is many, if not most, people) might never be completely free of it; there are always moments when everyone feels a little doubt (and if not, they…

Her wide soft eyes are brown, the color of innocence, and her hair golden, the shade of royalty. You thought she would be afraid of you, but instead she is curious, persistent; she follows you around as you go about your days, peppering you with questions. At first you’d shrugged her off, showing your annoyance, but secretly you loved it when she came to you and eventually you allow her to tag along without fear of rebuff as you go about your days.

Sometimes your days are bad and you have to hurt people; and her fragile heart hurts for…

You’re sitting in a classroom, silent except for the frantic scribbling of pencils and the insistent tick, tock of the clock on the wall. You try to swallow, despite your mouth feeling bone-dry, as you move onto the next question. It’s okay. Deep breaths. You can do this.

A person bubbles in answers on a standardized test.
A person bubbles in answers on a standardized test.
Photo by Nguyen Dang Hoang Nhu on Unsplash

You read option A and think, Oh, that’s definitely it. You’re flooded with relief, safe for a moment. But then you get to option C, and it all falls apart; option A, so solid and tempting when you began reading, is suddenly flimsy. …

random image to make you click on this article (it worked)…source: PORTRAITS INSTAGRAM — @LGNWVRPRTRTS EDITORIAL INSTAGRAM — @LGNWVRPHTO PERSONAL INSTAGRAM — @LGNWVR

In my mid to late teens, I was having an argument with my mother about cupcakes.

It’s not really important what the argument was about, but the gist of it is that, in response to her telling me not to eat another cupcake, I took one and shoved the entire thing in my mouth at once while maintaining eye contact with her.

You can call that what you will—rebellious, ridiculous, amusing, or just plain stupid—but I can’t deny that the cupcake still tasted delicious.

I’m guessing you clicked on this because there’s something you’re supposed to be doing and you’re not doing it.

Write down every excuse you have for pushing it off.

“There are things I want to do more than what I need to do—like reading this Medium answer.”

“I can’t motivate myself to do it.”

“I’m tired.”

“I can just do it tomorrow.”

“I can just do it in five minutes.”

“Five more minutes.”

“One more answer.”

“I can do it later. It’s not pressing that I do it now.”

“I don’t want to do it right now.”

Look over your…

I was seventeen years old, huddling in the corner of a classroom with other kids from my grade, cowering in darkness. Approximately ten seconds earlier, my principal’s voice had come over the loudspeaker: “We are now in lockdown.” Shortly thereafter: “This is not a drill. There is an active shooter at a nearby school.”

So there we were, grouped together in darkness except for the glow emitted from my classmates’ phone screens, silent except for the rapid tapping as they texted their parents, There’s an active shooter and I’m okay and Mom, I’m scared.

It was a mistake. There was…

I’m a nineteen-year-old girl.

When you read that, what did you think? Did you assume something about my maturity, my intellect, my experience? Did you assume that I say “I’m fine” when I’m not, hoping someone will fish something out of me?

The truth is this: usually when I tell people I’m fine, it’s because I actually am perfectly fine. And when I use it as a lie, it’s because I don’t feel like talking about it.

I’m not asking people to fish things out of me. That’s rude and an unfair expectation to have of somebody. I’m not going…

My finger hovered over the button. My hand was shaking. In one hand, I pinched a chunk of fat off my thigh; in the other, I held the plunger. Deep breath after deep breath, I counted down the seconds as I tried to steel my nerves.

Sometime prior to this, my doctors and parents began to get concerned because I wasn’t growing. I was fourteen years old, but I was 4”10 and I hadn’t really grown for years. Several tests later and here I sat, artificial growth hormones being covered by insurance. …

That line is perhaps one of the more cliché platitudes people hear. Everything seems like it’s never going to improve and it’s just depressing to keep going and keep getting met with the same disappointments, over and over again until it’s hard to believe there could be anything else.

I can’t exactly go deeply into my old social situation without offending or exposing certain people I used to hang out with, but suffice it to say that most of the people I used to hang out with were friends of circumstance.

When I was in twelfth grade — senior year…

I look at my phone and it flashes the date. October 1. My cousin Ezra would be turning 22 today.

If he were still alive.

It hits me, then. Four years ago, my cousin, Ezra Schwartz, was celebrating his eighteenth birthday. A month and a half later, he was dead.

It was my first experience with death. I was fourteen and in my first year of high school. Trying to grow into my personality, pursue my passions, be a teenager. Then someone shot my cousin in the face.

It’s weird sometimes. Knowing he won’t get older. …

Brooke Schwartz

Professional writer, editor, and tutor; social justice advocate; Orthodox Jew; dedicated Grammar Auror

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