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A High Schooler took a risk and can teach you to do the same

Updated: Aug 31, 2022

In my 12th grade Honors English class, each of us students had to give a 2-minute speech. The topic was chosen for us by the teacher, then we got to choose what to do with it for the presentation. The big day came and everyone was twitchy from nervousness. One at a time, students took their turns. With each name called, anxiety was temporarily eased for some, while for one, it was sent through the ceiling. Though I don’t remember many more details about this day, I will never forget the speech of one student.

I remember when this boy stood up from his desk and walked to the front of the room; his name had been called and it was his turn. Standing in front of us all, as we stared at him waiting in anticipation, he smiled, then turned his head and glanced up at the big white clock on the wall. He said nothing. Collectively holding our breath, we continued to wait for him to begin...and wait...5 seconds...10 seconds...did he have stage fright? Was he going to pass out?

His next move was very confusing and left a mark, at least on me, all the way into the present: he took the few steps over to the teacher’s desk and sat in the big padded office chair beside it. One at a time, he lifted his sneakers onto the mess of papers to grade, then crossed his ankles. His hands went behind his head as he leaned back into a relaxed position, grinning at us, and continuing to periodically glance back at the clock. We all stared, eyebrows raised and panic rising. What was he doing? Was he going to get yelled at? Or even worse, fail the assignment?!

Finally, after what should have been hours, but was actually about 1.5 minutes, he stood back up and walked to the center front of the classroom. “Procrastination,” he began.

The kid was brilliant.

And daring.

And instantly crush-worthy.

He was bold.

Yes, he took a risk when he stepped outside that box of presentation formats, but he didn’t overtly break any rules. And his cleverness was undeniable. Our teacher was still telling future classes years later, and here I am, telling you after almost 2 decades. Why?

Because we all need a little bit of what that kid had. A dose of gumption. A willingness to try something new when the standard way isn’t working for us or has closed the door on our noses. The ability to turn a stressor into an opportunity for creativity and authenticity. I mean...

As the rest of us sat there in our stone hard seats, he lounged at the teacher’s desk.

As the rest of us were sweating through our clothes, hoping we would remember our carefully crafted lines, he put his feet up...and he got an “A”. C’mon!

I learned from him that day. I really did. And now, when what everyone else is doing, or the way everyone else is doing it, either doesn’t work for me or isn’t available to me, I remember that feeling I had when watching him conclude his 30 seconds of actual speaking. Suddenly, I feel like I have options...possibilities...freedom to dream and brainstorm and critically think. And very quickly (most of the time), my suffocating world opens up and once again, I can inhale deeply.

I know, it can be hard to see past what we can see. To imagine the unseen and to take the next step toward bringing it to life. But goodness, is it ever exhilarating. I have learned that:

Faith is adventurous.
Believing is bold.
Risk is daring.

But the possibility of what exists beyond what you can see? It’s so worth it. Highly recommended.

Give it a try.

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