When I was in high school, our guidance counselor gave this poem to me during a recollection.  I was 15 years old and in search of my own identity.  I went to an exclusive school for girls and most of my classmates belonged to families in the upper echelons of society.  I come from a middle-class family and my parents were not hacienderos.  So you could imagine the struggle I went through to belong.  I didn't have new clothes always and I couldn't buy the latest Tretorn or K-Swiss or Giordano shirt. 

This poem helped me to realize that I don't have to pretend to be someone I'm not, and that it's okay to let people know who I really am. 


To laugh is to risk appearing the fool

To weep is to risk appearing sentimental

To expose feelings is to risk exposing your true self

To place your ideas, your dreams before a crowd is to risk their loss

To love is to risk not being loved in return

To hope is to risk despair

To try is to risk failure

But risks must be taken because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing

The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, and is nothing.

They may avoid suffering and sorrow.

But they cannot learn, feel, change, grow, love, live.

Chained by their certitudes, they are slaves.

They have forfeited their freedom –

Only a person who risks is free!