rebelling against low expectations

Doing Hard Things in China: Anica’s Story


After reading so many great entries for the Do Hard Things Story Contest, we’ve decided to highlight a story on TheRebelution every week for the rest of the year. Each story emphasizes how Do Hard Things has impacted these rebelutionaries. Today’s winner hails from China and speaks English as a second language. Meet Anica!

“Do Hard Things” has always been my favorite book ever since I first read it when I was 20 years old.

Back then I was a junior in Yunnan Normal University.

After I read a few pages, on the one hand, I was deeply inspired by all the encouraging ideas and deeds carried out by the Harris brothers; but on the other hand, I was a little bit embarrassed for not being able to read it when I was younger, at a proper age, like 10 years old maybe.

I was embarrassed because even I was 20 years old, the way I behaved was still so childish, like a little kid would be.

Just like Brett said, some people only get older but they don’t grow up.

When they are 18 years old, they act like 18 years old people. When they are 30, they look like 30 years old, but they still act like 18 years old. I felt I was one of those people, never grow up, only get older.

So I kept reading and keeping notes. I felt like my blood was burning inside. I felt like I had been sleeping for ages, and this “Do Hard Things” idea woke me up and urged me to be alive, to live a meaningful and colorful life! Through this book, I see each of us are amazing and we can do something really amazing if we choose to “do hard things!”

I started to think what kind of “hard things” I could do to be part of the “rebelution” group.

Leaving my comfort zone

Before I knew exactly what the “hard thing” is for me, I conquered my laziness and spent most of my time reading books, to be well equipped for the future challenges.

When most of my classmates went shopping every night after dinner, my friend and I would go to the library.

Sometimes it was such a struggling not to hang out like our classmates did, because hanging out was always an easy choice to make.

We chose the hard thing and went to the library.

Usually we must pray, we must ask God’s help on this, so that we could do it! But when we look back, we’re really glad that we chose the hard one and did the right thing!

After my graduation, I got a job in a charity organization as a program coordinator. Taking this job was really a hard thing for me!

There were two jobs that I could choose – one was easier, but not as meaningful as the other one. I felt God wanted me to chose the harder one; well, with a agonizing heart, I took the harder one!

I have always been a timid person, and I’m afraid of speaking in front of people, but as a coordinator I was required to speak in front of many volunteers during each mission! I am still nervous when I’m holding the morning meeting and evening meeting.

But I know, no matter how hard it is, it’s God who chose this job for me, and it’s God who wants me to keep doing this! I know I do this for God, and I can’t give up as long as God wants me to keep holding on to it!

Besides, each time I see the kids received surgery and became ordinary, I feel everything is so meaningful.

Sometimes this job makes me so anguish and under deep pressure. Sometimes the boss was so impatient and yelled at us a lot. It was very scary.

Sometimes some problems will occur out of a sudden, and I have to solve them alone. But with God’s help, nothing can beat me down! I will survive even when there are so many difficulties awaiting. Now I do believe, in the end, everything will have a happy ending, as long as it’s part of God’s plan!

So God has high expectations on us. At the same time, God is always by our side to help us to meet his expectations! So it is possible for all of us to do hard things!

I have read “Do Hard Things” for several times. Once I started to read it, I couldn’t make myself put it down. Even now, from time to time, I still take it out from my book shelf and read again, to inspire and encourage myself to keep trying to do hard things!

Start Here

From the second book “Start Here,” I got the idea that “do hard things” does not have to be that you find your own hard things and then work on it. Of course if you can find your own “hard things” and keep doing it, and that would be great, but you also can join in someone’s hard things and do with this person to fulfill this hard thing!

I don’t always feel what I’m doing is good enough to be called “hard things,” but I do know someone is doing something hard and meaningful, and she has been doing it for 30 years.

My professor, Joan, who first recommended “Do Hard Things” to me! She is an American, but when she was around 29 years old, she felt God calling her to come to China and improve the English education in China! So she left everything behind and came to China.

She insisted that students should learn English through reading English books and also listening to any English material that students may be interested in and keeping diaries, instead of doing lots of practice and lots of exam papers.

So she opened her personal library to offer the opportunity to her students to read as much as they like. She spent part of her salary to buy many original English books every month!

Now there are more than 10,000 books in her library!

She chooses each book carefully, and only those good for students’ mental health would she buy for them. She is still trying to get more books, and she wishes to have her library opened in some other remote areas in Yunnan, China, so that more children will have the chance to read original English books and more children will learn English for pleasure, not for tests.

It is my professor who helped see reading differently; she helped me see that reading can be very fun and at the same time helpful for my study. She is the one who helped me fall in love with reading!

She is the one who has changed my life and helped me become the present me! So I want her idea to reach more kids and change more lives.

My plan is to do something for this library, to devote as much as I can to making it prosperous, so that it will reach more kids’ hearts and encourage them to live a different but meaningful life!

I also will recommend this book to more people around me, to let it wake them up and come back to God, to do hard things for God, to be part of “rebelution” army!

May God bless all His children’s work and help us all to glorify His name on everything we do!

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About the author

Anica Chen

(Xiwuyin Chen) is 23 years old and is from China. She has been graduated from Yunnan Normal University for one year, and majored in English during her time there. She loves dancing and reading. Now, she is working for a charity organization.


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    • Thank you Leorah for taking time to read my story! I’m glad to know that it encourages you a little bit! God bless!(^_^)

  • Thank you for sharing Anica. It is very encouraging to hear of people who technically aren’t teenagers anymore, but they are still growing and learning to follow God’s plan for their lives!

    • Yes, God is always so amazing! And always so graceful and faithful! Thank you for reading it!(^_^) May God bless us all keep growing according to His will♥

  • Thank you Anica, for taking the time to write out how Do Hard Things has helped you! I’m loving all these stories… 🙂

    • Thank you Haylie! lt’s my pleasure to share my story with other sisters and brothers!(^_^) Thank you for taking time to read!

  • Your story is amazing Anica! I think it is wonderful that you tackled hard things for Christ! Thank you so much for sharing your story.

    May God richly Bless and protect you,

  • Thanks for writing this! It was encouraging, I’m a book lover to so I loved reading about Joan. So glad you’re working for God’s glory in China. God bless!

    • Thank you! lt’s also encouraging for me to hear you say so! lt’s God’s grace that make us book lovers and make us have desire to live for Him! God bless!!!

  • “So God has high expectations on us. At the same time, God is always by our side to help us to meet his expectations! So it is possible for all of us to do hard things!” – highlight for me

    Thanks for sharing. I could relate it some ways, and it was encouraging!

    • Thank you! May God help us stay faithful and to experience His presence and love everyday, so we can do His work fearlessly and passionately!

By Anica Chen
rebelling against low expectations

The Rebelution is a teenage rebellion against low expectations—a worldwide campaign to reject apathy, embrace responsibility, and do hard things. Learn More →