I’m sitting in class and the day’s lecture is done. The professor has opened the discussion up to the class and it’s time to participate. A hand extends shakily into the air, “I mean this is probably wrong but…” Or a student makes a statement that someone else disagrees with and they respond to it with, “I see where you’re coming from, and this may not be right, but I think it could be…”When I hear these types of disclaimers used before people speak, it makes me cringe. What happened to speaking with confidence? It’s as if some people are so afraid that their opinion will be deemed irrelevant or confrontational that they don’t even give it a chance to breathe. They shoot it down themselves so others can’t. Why is this generation so aggressively against the sharing of opinions – and sharing them with conviction? I think part of the problem may lie in the fact that we are so socialized to respect everybody and their views that we are afraid that being strong in our own opinions will somehow offend those who disagree with us. Respecting others’ views is a wonderful thing, but weakening your own statements to avoid stepping on toes isn’t the answer. If you aren’t 100 percent behind what you’re saying the person you’re talking to won’t be either. If you look at people in positions of authority, you never hear them speak in this wavering manner. Your professor doesn’t start class with, “Well maybe this is what happened in ancient Egypt, but who really knows, I could be wrong.” If they did you would be livid. Speaking in this way makes it seem as if you have no real investment in your own thoughts and opinions – your mouth is just running and you are along for the ride. Lacking confidence in your beliefs, and in the way you share them, can resign you to a lesser role in life regardless of how intelligent you may be. So when you’re called upon in class, say what you mean … and mean it. Then again, I mean, I could be wrong.