Is Standing Up for Yourself Worth it?

By Haleigh N.

High school is usually the time for young teenagers to find themselves and figure out what path that they want to take in life: “Where am I going? What do I want to become? What steps do I need to take?” For me in particular, I feel like I was more conscious about my existence as an individual than anyone else. I wanted to stand out. I wanted to be somebody that people knew. But there was one problem: I was just an ordinary individual who just didn’t stand out.

It was an average day sitting in a classroom during my sophomore year of high school, waiting for our history teacher to show up. After a while, the teacher still had not shown up and the class got more and more restless. Another girl in the class and I were both nervous because we were afraid that our moms would get a notification that we were absent from our first class of the day. My parents were pretty lenient on mistakes I made; however, there was one rule that I was absolutely forbidden to break: I was never ever allowed to skip class. If there was one hint that I had not shown up to class my parents would be upset with me. The girl and I both made an executive decision to go tell the teacher in a nearby classroom that our teacher had not shown up.

The moment we headed for the door several guys from the class noticed our impending departure and demanded we tell them where we were going. When we did so, they called us vulgar names and threatened us but we went and told the teacher anyway. When we stepped back into our history classroom we were met with attention and stares from every student in the class. It was not the kind of attention that I, nor anyone, would have wanted. We got the cold shoulder and heard whispers about us. I wanted so badly to lash out and defend myself, but instead I sat there in my desk and waited longingly for the class to end. Every day after that I dreaded going to that class. I was treated with the same cold shoulder nearly every day. All I had wanted was to stand out. I got what I wanted, but not in the way that I had hoped. I avoided those people in the class after that, hoping they would forget me.

The beginning of the last semester of my senior year, I sat down at a table in my ceramics class, excited to end high school on a good note. Right before class started, in walked the boy who was the one who had been the most vocal about my telling about the teacher our sophomore year. About halfway through the semester he brought up the time that I had stood up and gone to grab a teacher. He told me that the way I had reacted to him and the other teens in the class had inspired him. He told me he had been into drugs and other bad things at the time and had been pretty messed up. He said he had realized that I could have fought back and defended myself, but instead, I had stayed in the room and taken what people had thrown at me. Because I had reacted that way, he felt horrible for what he had done; the incident had turned his life around.

This whole experience taught me some very valuable lessons. Even when we do things right, it’s not easy. It also taught me that even when we don’t lash out as we humans naturally do, we can make a greater impression by defending ourselves quietly just as the Savior Jesus Christ did. He told us to turn the other cheek when he said, “But I say unto you….whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also” (Matthew 5:39). You never know the impact you can have on someone even if you are the most ordinary individual. Most importantly we are not ordinary to God. We can all be Christ-like; we all can make a stand.

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