You Need To Speak Up About Everything That Bothers You

You Need To Speak Up About Everything That Bothers You, Despite What Your Thoughts May Tell You

Even when no one agrees with you.

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I attend a Baptist University. Baylor University is an "unapologetically Christian" university, and since I am still trying to find myself in terms of whether or not I choose to participate in organized religion, Baylor was a good choice for me. However, in only one week of classes, I have found that most people here — students and faculty alike — share certain demographics. Being white with blonde hair is one demographic that I belong to, but the other, the "Christian Mindset," is one that I do not belong to. Not being a part of this mindset is borderline damaging to not only other's opinions of me but my opinion of them.

Most of my classes are discussion based, which is a difficult way to run a class. Oftentimes, you have people who either "all agree" or who are just not willing to speak up and contribute to the discussion. Either way, there are too many awkward pauses while the professor desperately searches for someone to make eye contact so they have an excuse to call on them. On the flip side, class debates can get violent, especially if they're about religion, which is my hardest class at the moment.

Baylor expects everyone to have a knowledge of the scriptures when they walk in the door. In theory, one could learn as they go (as classes are supposed to work) but since the course is designed around this expectation, one semester is far too short to try to understand the values and mindsets of Christianity at the most basic level.

It's frustrating. I often feel inadequate compared to my religious classmates, and I have felt this constant pressure to prove myself and to prove that I belong here. I feel stupid for not going on and not understanding any of the readings, and I feel especially stupid for asking the seemingly obvious questions in class or having a perspective that no one else in the class agrees with.

While alienating, I feel that my presence at Baylor is a learning experience for both me and my classmates. It's OK to have a differing opinion than those around you, especially when it comes to religion. If you end up in a situation like I am, understand that the people around you need to be exposed to more viewpoints than the ones they grew up with, and you need to see how religion at its core functions — a lesson I'm still trying to find the answer to.

This doesn't just go for religion either. That's just my personal experience. This goes with any topic of discussion that you may find hard to talk about. Speak your mind. It's OK to be wrong, and it's OK to change your mind. You're allowed to contribute to the conversation, even if no one agrees with you. You don't have to be agreeable to be smart, or kind, or responsible. You need to be you.

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Stop Discourging Future Teachers

One day, you'll be thankful for us.
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“What do you want to be when you grow up?" It seems like this is the question we heard from the time we were able to talk. Our answers started out as whatever movie or action figure was popular that year. I personally was going to be Cinderella and shoot spider webs out of my wrists at the same time. The next phase was spent choosing something that we read about in a book or saw in movies. We were aspiring to be actors, skydivers, and astronauts.

After we realized NASA may not necessarily be interested in every eager 10-year-old, we went through the unknown stage. This chapter of life can last a year or for some, forever. I personally did not have a long “unknown" stage. I knew I was going to be a teacher, more specifically I knew I wanted to do elementary or special education. I come from a family of educators, so it was no surprise that at all the Thanksgiving and Christmas functions I had actually figured it out. The excitement of knowing what to do with the rest of my life quickly grew and then began to dwindle just as fast.

“Why?"

"Well, looks like you'll be broke all your life."

“That's a lot of paperwork."

“If I could go back and do it again, I wouldn't choose this."

These are just a few replies I have received. The unfortunate part is that many of those responses were from teachers themselves. I get it, you want to warn and prepare us for the road we are about to go down. I understand the stress it can take because I have been around it. The countless hours of grading, preparing, shopping for the classroom, etc. all takes time. I can understand how it would get tiresome and seem redundant. The feeling a teacher has when the principal schedules yet another faculty meeting to talk an hour on what could've been stated in an email… the frustration they experience when a few students seem uncontrollable… the days they feel inadequate and unseen… the sadness they feel when they realize the student with no supplies comes from a broken home… I think it is safe to say that most teachers are some of the toughest, most compassionate and hardworking people in this world.

Someone has to be brave enough to sacrifice their time with their families to spend time with yours. They have to be willing to provide for the kids that go without and have a passion to spread knowledge to those who will one day be leading this country. This is the reason I encourage others to stop telling us not to go for it.

Stop saying we won't make money because we know. Stop saying we will regret it, because if we are making a difference, then we won't. Stop telling us we are wasting our time, when one day we will be touching hearts.

Tell us to be great, and then wish us good luck. Tell us that our passion to help and guide kids will not go unnoticed. Tell us that we are bold for trying, but do not tell us to change our minds.

Teachers light the path for doctors, police officers, firefighters, politicians, nurses, etc. Teachers are pillars of society. I think I speak for most of us when I say that we seek to change a life or two, so encourage us or sit back and watch us go for it anyways.

Cover Image Credit: Kathryn Huffman

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Mourning The Loss

She had no direction and already felt like she had lost herself, anyway.

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She wore her heart on her sleeve but covered her innermost feeling with laughs, smiles, and awkward jokes that only some thought were funny at all. She was happy on the outside and this got her to the place where she is now. Faking it till she made it made sense until she realized she didn't know what she was making it to.

Regardless, she was a bright light in the hallways of her grade school filled with small plastic chairs and brown square desks. She acted most days as a clown in the classroom in order for her to get some kind of attention. She worked on Accelerated Math and reading books extensively, and in her free time her studying habits were almost obsessive.


Brianna Gavin

When asked to do anything for anyone, she dropped all of what she was doing to help.

High school came around and after being separated from her best friend going to a different school, she knew this time she really had to reinvent herself. At first, she stayed in the bubble of grade school friends and found it hard to ever speak up about anything.


Brianna Gavin

She kept her mouth shut for the first year of high school and lived in the shadows of her siblings' bad decisions. That first year, teachers even called her "little Gavin".

As sophomore year of high school came around, she met a teacher that would forever change her life and brought her out of the shadow of her siblings past. She was the first teacher in that high school to see her as her own person, different from her family.

After meeting this teacher, she stepped into the role of being a leader. She went to summer leadership camps and became actively involved in the Social Committee of Student Council. She created a service club and became the president. She got over 100 hours of service done each year, went on mission trips, led and spoke her story at retreats, went to every football game dressed UP in the theme, and still had time to get a high GPA.


Brianna Gavin

She was KILLING it.

In the mornings before school started, she sat in her car for five minutes by herself to separate her home life from her school life. She listened to "One Man Can Change The World" by Big Sean and sang the words to herself as she began to put on a mask for the day.


Brianna Gavin

She was sometimes a clown. She'd walk around the hallways and go to class while eating boxes of cereal and constantly made jokes about ANYTHING going on. One thing you could always count on her for was authenticity and hope.


Brianna Gavin

Even at her job teaching kids how to swim, the second she came out in her brightly colored swimsuit, her kids were already there and ready to say hi to her. Kids would make her cards and families constantly asked her to babysit and told her stories of how much their kids loved her.


One day during school, she was awarded with a scholarship called "You Can Count On Me", given to her because of how reliable, dependable, and important she was to all those around her. She remembered the words that were said about her when she received the scholarship and those were the driving force for her to continue helping others and being there for herself.

But then came college. And with the goodbye to all of her friends, family, and popular school life also came the goodbye to herself.


Brianna Gavin

She now became something she didn't want to be anymore. She stayed in her room, struggled extensively with mental illness, and looked in the mirror without knowing what she was looking at. She didn't have many friends and she felt alone most of the time.

With change and loss, she lost herself. She, in a sense, died as soon as her relationships with those close friends and family died. And no matter how hard she tries, she will never be the happy, energetic, inspiring, motivational, giving, faithful, loving person she once was.

The truth she has to share...she is gone.

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