Up until a few years ago, I held onto this twisted notion that my self – worth was measured by how much others valued me. I was extra careful not to step on any toes, annoy, or openly disagree with anyone at the fear any set of words or actions would leave me alone. What is the most lonely is to deny yourself your own voice. There is a power in silence, but when that silence is prolonged, it becomes deafening to your sense of self. I cannot say that I am fully free from the grasp of what others might be thinking about me if I do or say a certain thing – however, I know now that through the example of others, it is possible to live out loud and be a kind, considerate, contributor to the world. And no one else can place a value on your life other than yourself.