Above all else this year, journalism has given me courage - courage to be myself and courage to say what needs to be said. I have always wanted to be a columnist, but I was afraid that people would criticize me and my work. News writing is hard to mess up as long as you check your quotes and facts. Column writing, however, is relative, and people can think and say what they want. This year, however, I took a risk and became a columnist. Although there were some times when I wrote a column and then wished I hadn't published it, there were some that received a lot of positive feedback. By far my most controversial column was on inappropriate dancing ("grinding") at school dances. I knew that I was criticizing some of the more "popular" kids at my school (of course, I did not name them in that article), but I was able to make an impact on school policy and even sparked a debate in the Political Action and Awareness Club. I certainly got some negative feedback, but I learned to stand behind my opinion and not let other people's thoughts cause me to bury my feelings. I said what I wanted to say and I was proud of it. Being a columnist has taught me to become a more outgoing and less self-conscious writer and person overall.