Any 16-year-old homeschooler experiencing college for the first time would be daunted.
That’s why, on my first persuasive essay for English, I decided to do my project on an easy-to-agree-with subject: the value of nutrition and home cooking. Deep down inside I wanted to put all of my past research on abortion, child abuse, and other world problems to good use.
So why didn’t I?
From Timid to Bold
Nearly a year later, I understand how much I’d wanted that 4.0 grade, which is a great goal to have. However, in my quest to make my professor happy with my subject and thus boost my score, I’d lost sight of what an impact my writing could have on those reading it.
That’s why, when I went into an Art-History class a couple of quarters later, I decided that I would comply with all requirements except one: to refer to B.C (Before Christ) as B.C.E (Before Common Era).
It was a little rebellion, small but meaningful to me. Because I’d learned that who I am shouldn’t change for a Grade Point Average. I knew this would be the start of something inside of me.
The next quarter I took a Children’s Literature class. Every other week we had to do a PowerPoint presentation on a book, and I decided each time to choose a topic I strongly cared about.
The first week was terrible. People looked at me annoyingly and I felt out of place among Dr. Seuss and Magic Treehouse presentations. Why was I talking about the Princess and the Kiss by Jennie Bishop, a book that promotes purity in young girls? I got some weird looks and no one had any questions for discussion. It was like they were begging me to leave the spotlight.
By the time the final project had come around, I went from nervously rambling about the subject of purity to blowing through an entire series. I talked about how The Christian Heritage by Nancy Rue could raise the bar for children reading it today, and how poetry could change the lens through which children see the world.
I went from people cutting me short in order to move on with the presentations, to question after question of the values of Christianity in our culture today. Someone even told me she wanted to move to teach in a Christian Preschool because she thinks children benefit more strongly from books that show kids with character.
Start Small and Stay Strong
So what did I learn from all of this? How can you grow in a way that allows you to take that step into influencing your classmates, professors, or just the people around you? Well, it’s not going to be easy, but before you know it you could be making some pretty bold statements that people will actually listen to. Just start with something small, something simple, yet meaningful to you. Things will get bigger and you’ll get bolder from there.
Did this help my grades? Not really. In fact, in my Art-History class, I was marked “wrong” for referring to B.C as such, instead of B.C.E (the “correct” way). In some cases, yes, is did lower my GPA. But that just meant I had to work harder in other areas like my public speaking skills, formatting abilities, and overall analysis of stories and poetry.
None of it really hurt me. I just tried harder and, rather than making just myself proud, I made God proud too. And shouldn’t that be our ultimate goal?
My classmates listened to perspectives they didn’t agree with. My professors started to grade thing on quality versus content. I taught myself to be bold, to do hard things. But most of all, I proved that starting small can help you transition into the bigger things before you know it.
Trust me, I’m kind of a wimp. Sometimes I get scared because of expectations. I know I didn’t do this on my own, so I can’t give you the old “if I can do it, you can too” line. That would be incorrect. Instead, I’ll just tell you that with God, anything is possible.
I’m not done either. That was just one year, and I have another to go until I graduate. I’m still working on it, and God is still working on me. The only answer I have is God.
I can’t tell you it’ll be easy or that people will listen. I can’t say that you’ll be confident through it all. I can’t promise anything.
All I can say is that I was once a very timid, very nervous young lady. Now I feel bolder and ready to take on another year of sharing the gospel in the little ways—one step at a time.