As a teenager, I attended a large public high school in Brooklyn, New York. Having attended a small elementary school where I knew everyone (and all of my friends were like me – first generation Americans born to Caribbean immigrants), I was incredibly afraid of my high school, filled to its brim with thousands of students. I quickly learned that if I wanted to achieve my goal of graduating and ultimately becoming a lawyer, I would not do so by sitting silently.
I would have to speak up, share my views with others and show my teachers that I had a pulse! I spoke to my parents about my fear and they reminded me that sometimes in life, you have to take chances. After all, they took the ultimate, proverbial leap of faith by immigrating to the United States.
So, with great trepidation, I mustered some courage and spoke out in small ways – first, by participating in classes, then by joining extracurricular activities and finally by running for office in my junior year in high school.
While I lost the election, I realized that speaking out and taking a risk wasn’t so bad. In fact, it felt good to “run for office” and I gained a great deal of confidence in the process.
Despite this experience, early in my legal career, I sometimes faced an internal struggle when deciding whether to share my thoughts or opinions. I always came back to what my parents told me – take a risk, have a voice and be heard. Over time, it became easier for me to speak out, whether in analyzing a legal precedent, discussing a case, networking or just chatting about the things that make you go “hmmm.”
I encourage you to find your voice and to use it! Your views are meant to be shared and the world wants, and more importantly, needs, to hear from you.