The Challenge

Posted: November 29, 2012 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , ,


I have a challenge for you.

Actually, it was a challenge I posed to my 4th period Creative Writing classes. I came across a quote yesterday while doing my lesson plans for them:

“Be yourself. Above all, let who you are, what you are, what you believe shine through every sentence you write, every piece you finish.” -John Jakes

I then asked them to raise their hands if any of the following questions applied to them:

  • How many of you feel like, no matter where you are, what the circumstance or occasion is, who you’re around, or what you are doing, you are always your true self, regardless of any of the variables?
  • How many of you are unafraid of and/or unaffected by what people say or think about you?
  • How many of you feel insecure or afraid to express certain things about yourself?
  • How many of you hide your true selves, for whatever reason?

I was shocked at the response I got… So many of them admitted that they were afraid of expressing themselves, they told me that they were intimidated by what other people thought, and they have never truly been honest with anyone about who they really are.

I then told them that, if there was no other place they could be honest, the one place where they could let go of all inhibitions and truly be themselves was in their writing. And I referred back to the aforementioned quote, telling them that the key to unlocking a truly good writer was the ability to first be honest with oneself. So I instructed them to write their full names underneath the quote, and then write until I told them to stop about who they truly were. (Example: One kid asked if he should write that he liked music. I told him that that was irrelevant to who he was, but if he considered himself a musician, then he should write that instead, as it contributes to the person he is.)

You all would be SHOCKED if you could read the stuff these kids turned in.

Many admitted to being gay, depressed, confused, insecure, unhappy, abused, neglected, sex/ drug/ alcohol addicts… I was so surprised! They were so HONEST. They admitted that there were some things about themselves that they’d never admitted to anyone that they wrote… and then some things that they didn’t even know about themselves until pen met paper and they began to pour themselves onto the paper. I was touched and moved, and this assignment did wonders for them as individuals.

THEN (this assignment just keeps going) I collected them and read them aloud, keeping the identities of the authors anonymous. They listened intently, nodding in agreement, understanding the feelings of their peers. They left with a whole new level of appreciation for each other. It was one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever had as a teacher.

I wanted to do the assignment myself. I decided I’d do it here.

And since the assignment was a tremendous success with my students, I wanted to extend it to you.

At the top of your blog, write the quote. And then, tell me (and whoever else wants to read) about yourself. Be honest. If my high school students had the courage to, as awful and mean and judgmental as their peers could’ve been, I challenge you to have the courage to be brutally honest, too.

You might be surprised at what you discover about each other… and about yourselves.

It’s such a liberating thing to do.

Go ahead. Happy Writing!

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