The Key to Confidence Lies in Words
Finding My Confidence Through Writing
The blanket of snow that covered Alaska’s towns gave off an isolating affect to its inhabitants. As a result, I grew up being extremely shy for a child and always felt anxious when holding conversations. This formed the perfect disaster for education during my elementary years. My distaste with education, however, has always been simmered by my love for writing and reading.
Third grade was filled with the faint smell of Elmer’s glue and loud chattering amongst my classmates. Separate from my peers, I was found always in the corner, quiet and observing. Too nervous to raise my hand and ask for any of the help that I often needed, I’d push through my struggles and hope to understand. This wasn’t an effective way of learning, but it was the only way I knew. Thinking back, I’m not sure why I was scared to ask for help or to be incorrect. Maybe it was because the thought of people mocking me was ever present in my mind. Whatever the reason, it made sense at the time to keep quiet about my misunderstandings. I figured out soon, however, that it gradually becomes more difficult to go into the classroom and build on what you have learned if you never learned the material in the first place. Paired with this, I had very little confidence in my ability to succeed in most subjects. The one subject that was different was English. As far back as I can remember, I’ve loved to read and write and this helped boost my motivation for learning.
At the beginning of the fourth grade, my family packed up and moved to the rainy coast of Oregon and this brought a new set of obstacles. Once we arrived, we decided on living in a little tourist town called Lincoln City. Instantly, my family fell in love with the fiery sunsets and the salty breeze. As shy as I was, I also had a fear of change. Moving to a new school happened to be a huge one. When I walked into Taft Elementary with my mom, I felt utterly out of place in a school that was small and tight-knit. Although I was uncomfortable, I made friends and slowly started to come out of my shell. This made the social aspect of school immensely easier, but did little to cure my anxiety with learning. Teachers complimented my hard work and effort, but I was still lacking skills in subjects like math and science. With English, I was usually at a higher grade level and I took pride in this accomplishment. My pride gave me the drive to work harder at my problem subjects. I genuinely wanted to succeed in every part of my learning.
By the time early high school came around, I was fully adjusted into Taft. There were ups and downs as anyone would have, but, for the most part, it felt like things were slowly looking up. Although it was hard, I kept pushing myself to ask for help and only flourished more in the field of writing and reading. I went into an advanced track for English and heavily relied on my peers for help in the areas that were hard for me. At this time, writing became a routine task, rather than a pleasure. When essays became the main focus, instead of reading, I found that I was struggling to keep up with the lessons. Writing had always been fun for me, but having so many restrictions and rules made it less enjoyable. My words felt like they had less of my voice and more of a distorted version of what I was trying to say. It became harder to do assignments that involved essays and it was no longer a hobby, but a chore. This took an even bigger negative toll on my other classes. As a result of my lack of interest in English, there was a time period were I had to do everything in my power just to get my homework done. This is the point where my mindset became “fixed.”
There is a theory that resonates with me and that I connect to called the Mindset Theory (Dweck). The theory states that one either has a fixed mindset or a growth mindset. Students with growth mindsets view problems as something to figure out, as a challenge. While those with fixed mindsets believe they cannot do the problem at all. I connected with this, because I have a fixed mindset and it’s something that has shown quite a bit in the present day. As a junior, I am working my hardest to overcome this obstacle, but it's a long and difficult process. I have gained my love for writing back through writing outside of school and have almost completely overcome the fear of asking for guidance. I still worry that I ask too many questions and that I can become a burden on teachers. Even so, it has become nearly impossible to succeed without getting help. However, with these achievements, it seems that my anxiety has only grown and is very hard to handle at times.
For the first few months of my sophomore year, I felt insecure about my anxiety. I felt that I was the only person in the sophomore class to feel the way I did. It didn’t take more than looking around though to realise that I wasn’t alone. A lot of students feel an overwhelming pressure to succeed in school. The American Psychological Association reports that in 2009 as much as forty-five percent of teens said they felt a substantial amount of stress due to school pressures (American Psychological Association). I can only imagine what that statistic would look like by the end of 2017. With the state tests only getting harder and the teachers pushing college on students every chance they get, it’s no wonder school is becoming more of a job than it used to be.
Reading and writing has always been there for me in times of stress and hardship. It is my only way of organising my thoughts to get to clear resolutions. My confidence first started blooming thanks to my love for writing. I felt proficient in something and this pushed me to not give up. I’ve never felt as free as when I’m forgetting my daily problems because I’m so drawn into a good book that I can’t put it down. I don’t know where I would be without the power of language and words. As a result of books, literature, and writing, I have been able to overcome more than I thought I ever could when I was in the third grade. I think that’s pretty amazing and it’s something I will forever be grateful for.
The snow covering Alaska taught me how to be comfortable without a lot of friends.The rain falling over Oregon taught me it’s okay to show how I feel, but writing and reading taught me how to express all of this for people to see. That is something that no amount of words or sentences would ever be able to describe accurately.
Works Cited Page
American Psychological Association, “Stress In America”, 2009, accessed 5 October 2017.
Dweck, Carol. “The Power of Believing That You Can Improve”, November 2014, www.ted.com/talks/carol_dweck_the_power_of_believing_you_can_improve.