rebelling against low expectations

I’m Not Alone: Aviel’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 year. Each story emphasizes how Do Hard Things has impacted these rebelutionaries. Today is our last story. Meet Aviel from New Zealand!

Ever since I was eight years old, I had one thing that I pledged to myself never to become. I would never be a typical teenager.

I hated the rebellion, selfishness, and foolishness that I saw in the older teenagers around me. I wanted to look up to them as examples of what I should one day become, and they disappointed me.

All I saw in them was worldliness.

At the age of twelve, I was beginning to see just how hard it was not to be a “teenager” when all my friends and the world around me encouraged me to live up (or rather, down!) to low expectations.

It was very tempting to just give in to what our culture would consider normal, and not make an effort to do anything I didn’t have to do.

Several times I didn’t do something whole-heartedly and was surprised when even my parents considered it completely normal.

I was only twelve, and yet I felt as though I was already expected to meet the world’s low standards. I was dead set against it and was continually trying, but failing, to defy the low expectations all around me.

I felt like I was all alone fighting low standards.

Then, the dreaded day of my birthday arrived and I turned thirteen.

I was shocked when people automatically labeled me as a “teenager” the moment they heard my age. People would immediately expect me to behave, talk and look a certain way.

I was frustrated. It seemed as though I was the only teenager in the world trying to exceed low expectations, to work hard at my studies dress modestly and behave maturely.

It was hard. I didn’t have many friends at all.

I wasn’t popular because I wasn’t like other teenagers.

It was then that I was at the point of giving up on making an effort to stand out.

Then, one of my few friends, an eighteen year old girl, recommended the book, Do Hard Things to me. She sent me the link to The Rebelution.

I was in a hurry at the time, so I forwarded it to my mother to ask her if I could get the book. I completely forgot about it, but after a couple of weeks, my mother said that the library got the book I sent her – Do Hard Things.

I had no idea what she was talking about, but apparently she had put in a suggestion that our local library should get it.

My life transformed the day I walked out of the library, a copy of the book Do Hard Things under my arm, and read the first chapter.

I couldn’t believe that there were millions of other teenagers out there doing exactly what I was so desperately trying to do!

I immediately went on to the computer and joined The Rebelution.

I didn’t change immediately in very great ways, but I started – one step at a time.

First, I started with reading my Bible and praying every day.

I had been very inconsistent with it, and sometimes a busy week or two would go by without me having touched my Bible. I knew that I needed to change that.

I needed God in order to one day become a great and godly teenager – to set an example to all the believers.

Secondly, I started working harder at my schoolwork.

I had been consistently getting sick for the previous six months, so I hadn’t managed to do as much as I would have liked to. After starting to read the book, I began making an effort to work hard at it and do my very best.

Thirdly, I worked on being more respectful and obedient to my parents.

One of the most common attitudes about teenagers that I wanted to defy was rebellion. It was very hard. It may have been the hardest thing that I had to change so far.

I was very tempted on many occasions to rebel against my parents’ authority. A few times I did, but later regretted it.

I wanted with all my being to fight against low expectations and against the world’s view of teenagers. God has really been helping me in this area, even though it is hard.

I love the way Do Hard Things encourages those who do small, hard things to keep at it because God sees and notices these little efforts, even if your friends and family don’t.

There are other ways that I am working on doing small, hard things. Even if they haven’t affected anyone else much, they have affected my life greatly.

I want to later do big hard things that will prove to our culture exactly what teenagers can do if the world wouldn’t have such low expectations of them!

I have not done very great things, and I am far from the perfect teenager, but I am constantly relying on God to help me swim against the current and rebel against low expectations.

It is hard but so worth it!

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About the author

Aviel Gonen

is a 14-year-old Messianic Jewish, teen girl, who loves writing, playing piano, drawing, babysitting, movies, cooking, reading, helping her mom with the household chores, blogging at, shopping, and music. She lives in New Zealand with her family.


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  • Great story!! It sounds a lot like mine. I also was always determined never to become a typical teen, and I attend public school so that is very hard. I sympathize with everything you said 😉

    • Thank you so much, Grace!! Yes, it is so hard to believe in Jesus in a secular environment, especially in public school. I am very blessed to be homeschooled, but I have been to public school and understand exactly what you mean. Just focus on Jesus, read good books, listen to Christian music, read the Bible and have Christian friends who will encourage you in the faith. You will find it much easier if you ground yourself in Jesus, and stay focused on Him. God bless you, Grace! I’m praying for you 🙂 Love and Blessings,
      Aviel <3

  • I read “Do Hard Things” a year ago, but I think I’ll need to read it again. I read, but really “do” anything what I wanted to change. This story is encouraging. Thanks!

    • That’s wonderful that you were encouraged by my story! God bless you, and have a great day! Blessings,
      Aviel. 🙂

    • I’m so glad that you were encouraged by my story, Faith! It’s encouraging for me to know that other girls out there can relate to me. Keep up the good work, Faith and continue to exceed low expectations. God bless you! 🙂 <3

  • Out of curiosity, what is a Messianic Jew? I’ve never heard this term used and I’m genuinely curious about what that entails.

    I loved your post. I was about to suggest that you check out Patrick Henry College teen camps, but then I read your bio and realized that you live in New Zealand. Oops. I guess that probably won’t work since PHC is in Virginia, US.

    • Hi Regan!

      A Messianic Jew is a Jewish person who believes that Jesus is the Promised Messiah (a believer in Jesus). Good question 🙂

      I am so glad you enjoyed reading my post! Yes, that camp sounds awesome, but I live quite far away… Thanks for thinking of me though! 🙂

      Thanks for commenting. It is so encouraging to have people reading my post and being encouraged by my story.
      Have a blessed day!!
      Love and blessings,
      Aviel. 🙂 <3

  • Stay strong girl!!!! Your hard work will pay off and God will use you to do great things! For such a time as this…:))))

    • Also, I am the creator of a Christian site, a blog with Christian humor and devotions, you and your friends may enjoy it! 🙂

  • Im going to be a copycat, i’ve already started doing my own thing to try to improve my relationship with god and my family, but your story was the final tug through the door. Thank you so much for writing this and giving me the inspiration to push on.

  • I have just found out about the rebelution and saw this article and it is so inspiring thank you Aviel, I totally feel this way!

  • That is so cool! I’m struggling with rebellion the most right now. wish it could be easier to fight down. But does beating the Devil ever come easy?

By Aviel Gonen
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 →