I have had many different labels throughout my life but the two that have stuck out the most in my memory are completely contrasting: "painfully shy" and "overly-confident" they were both written by teachers of mine in the space of one year. The year that changed my life, the year that transformed my personality, the year that made me happy. When I moved schools I was forced to make friends quickly and the pressure to "fit in" and become part of my year group was unbelievable. This sparked off a side of me I had never seen before. Surprised as I was at my behaviour I have not looked back. Having spent ten years of my life in the shadow of my brothers being pushed into an alien environment of having to make new friends was daunting and something I never thought I could cope with.

I had been labeled for the first half of my life painfully shy: I remember when I was six the hall in our house was being painted I hid under my brother's cot because I was petrified of the decorator. Conversation with anyone but my closest friend or members of my immediate family was near impossible for me. However I did move schools and I was forced to come out of my shell and I did. And I did it successfully.

My new friends sometimes think maybe too successfully. The view of my friends and family is now that in an almost overnight transformation I have become overly-confident and shameless. I have the opinion however that because my friends and I laugh an uncountable amount everyday we are therefore healthier because it has been medically proven laughter is the best medicine! If I was not so outgoing and extroverted I doubt I would have half as much fun: I recall a very memorable night in, in which three of my best friends and I have never laughed so much all because of the fantastic feeling I have when I express myself. I am in myself much happier than I was six years ago. I can talk to anyone and get along well with most people, when I was younger I had a handful of friends and I could not introduce myself to anyone let alone ask a stranger the time in the middle of Glasgow. My newly gained confidence is what makes me comfortable in myself, before my change of personality I was unhappy and hid behind a quiet, soft, exterior.

I think that people around me prefer the "new me" because I am more open and can confide in my friends and know that they can be trusted because we are all much closer. I recall the first time when I realised that I was no longer introverted and no longer blushed profusely when I was asked a question in class: I was sitting in a class talking to a friend of mine and my teacher at that time told us to stop chatting a few times and then the last time he told us I answered back rather cheekily. I stopped in my tracks and could not believe what I had said to him. Shocked at the unfamiliar words that had come out of my mouth I was stunned and began to realise the changes that had taken place in the past year. Strangely pleased though I was I still deserved the detention! Confidence is like a friend to me. It is not a word or a feeling but a person that has infected me with its presence over the past six years of my life in senior school.

Some believe me to be a "nice girl" others, such as my mother think of me as "an arrogant cocky madam" I do not mind which people think of me as long as I feel comfortable in myself and I am not too rude. I never thought when I was a timid, young girl that I could grow up and become forward and opinionated. The views I hold now have not been changed, they represent what I used to be and I finally feel free to express them and do not hide behind a shield whether that have been my parents, teachers or peers. It is strange to think that I could change my whole outlook on life by becoming more open, friendly and confident. Confidence has changed me.

I am in some ways exactly the same person as I was before but in others - completely different. And I like what I see!