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I would have laughed at this article if I had read it a year ago. Opening up was simply not something that I ever did, or would ever consider doing. I didn’t see the attraction, to be honest, of having long emotional talks with friends or family. I was much more comfortable with telling a joke, complaining about school, or discussing a film. I wasn’t the friend who you would go to if you needed to talk, I was the friend who provided a distraction from your problems.

This suited me down to the ground and worked perfectly well for seventeen years, until I was in fifth year in school. The stress of exams, the pressure to do well in school, my own insecurities- they all started to build up, and I found I had no method of coping with them, and nobody to talk to. Still, I continued to joke around with my friends, never letting a conversation go deeper than surface level. I felt completely alone.

Everything changed when, one day, I finally opened up to my best friend. This felt like the most intimidating thing in the world to do but, to my surprise..

…nothing happened; the earth didn’t stop turning, hell didn’t freeze over, and my friend didn’t treat me any differently.

Talking about my feelings had seemed like the biggest obstacle I would ever have to face in my life, but once I started to talk it actually became easier. I slowly began talking to other friends and to family, each conversation less intimidating than the last.

I now wholeheartedly believe in the saying “ A problem shared is a problem halved”, as cheesy and overused as it is.  I no longer laugh at articles like this one, urging the reader to open up to friends, family, a trusted adult. I want every girl to know that it’s okay to have feelings, and it’s ok if you don’t know how to talk about them. You are never as alone as you may think. If you ever feel the need to talk, but don’t know how to or feel that it’s too scary, take a deep breath and remind yourself that opening your mouth and speaking up is the hardest part, and from there everything becomes easier.

By Alísha x