I had to really sit and think on this one. Somewhere between eighth grade and now, my horizon quadrupled or something like that. I didn't know exactly how, until now.
You see, I was the shy one that would sit back, silently absorbing what everyone else said, formulating ideas of my own, but never having the guts to say them. Presently, I am still kind of quiet, but nothing like I used to be. The quiet now is different. It's more like: I am not afraid to speak up, but I only speak my mind when I know it will be effective. Some of my wonderful mentors are always reminding us not to post on CD, or any other forum saying only: I agree. Or something similar. When we speak, we need to actually build on the topic, not keep it at the same level it was already at. This is how I respond to normal, everyday activities. There isn't really a point in saying something, if it doesn't have meaning.
In addition to this, I was thinking: Well, I have only been on this team a year. And even at the beginning of this year, when I had my interview to be on the team, I was very comfortable speaking to the mentors in the room. I was a little nervous, because I didn't really know what to expect, but other than that, I was fine. I feel like there are so many options out there for me right now. It is really cool, actually, to think that a single program can be the basis for an amazingly positive outlook on life in general. That really has increased my self-confidence.
I think something else that has contributed to all of this, is that I was on a VEX team in eighth grade, before coming to the high school. I already kind of experienced some of this, but I wasn't really able to process all of the information being thrown at me.
I am also more self-confident because I think that FIRST provides an atmosphere that makes you feel like you are important. I know that what I contribute to the team is valuable, equally so as everyone else. I know that it takes not only what I do, but what everybody else does to keep the team going. It provides many leadership opportunities, and it has helped me to become a better speaker. I am not nervous at all to stand in front of a bunch of classmates I have known for years and give a speech; that fear was broken as soon as I was sent out to be the representative for our team during alliance selection. There is nothing more intimidating than knowing that the fate of your team lies in your hands (for that competition, at least
And (I'm kind of backtracking, sorry), because I spent all of my time prior to robotics, being quiet and listening and absorbing so much information, it is easier to memorize different things and recall data much faster, such as robots, their capabilities, number, name, etc., while scouting. Everything seemed to just kind of fall in its place with FIRST. It is really simple to prioritize my activities; no matter what robotics is first, unless there is something where I am direly needed (such as winter guard prelims
There is no doubt that FIRST has increased my self-confidence, and has given me new outlets of people to be involved in, that all care about it as much as I do. Everyone involved in this program is a great person, and because of that, it is easy to communicate to everyone else, because I know that no matter what I say or do, I have my team and the FIRST community behind me. That's how FIRST is such an effective program- the people that run it and are in it are exemplary people. I will always promote FIRST and introduce people to it, and be a living example of how effective a program it really is.
I will never regret being a part of this.