The Day I Became Me

The fifth grade was a year of firsts for me. I wore glasses for the first time, had my first complexion breakout and it was my first year in public school.

I attended a small private Christian school up until that year. 

And the difference was vast.

For the first couple of months, I felt lost.  The learning curve was great and I struggled to fit in and find friends.  I was behind in Math and ahead in Language Arts.

Eventually, I found a friend or two and some acceptance.

But I will never forget the day that I found me.

Since fifth graders were on the cusp of middle school, a special speaker was invited to hold an assembly to help prepare us.

I was excited to have a break from the classroom and I remember filing in with the other fifth grade classes.  I sat down on the gym floor and listened as the speaker began.

He was enthusiastic and charismatic.  And funny.  He started out telling jokes and made us feel comfortable.  “I’d like to do a little experiment.  Can I have a volunteer?” he asked.

I don’t know what possessed me to raise my hand.  I was pretty introverted and lacked a lot of self-esteem.  But I raised my hand eagerly with everyone else.

And he picked me from the one hundred students.

He asked me to come to the stage.

I was a giddy mixture of fear and delight.  I hated that everyone stared at me and loved it all at the same time.

“What’s your name?” he asked.  I answered into the microphone.

“Can you go with my assistant to another room?  It’s part of my experiment,” he said.

And so I did, nervously.  I was only gone for a minute or two and then we returned to the gymnasium. 

“Welcome back, Kristen.  We have just one question for you.  It’s very simple.  Okay?”

I nodded my head.

He flipped over a giant chalkboard and said, “Do you see these two lines?”

I looked at the lines on the board.  One was long, one was short.  That was it.

“Yes,” I croaked.

“All you have to do is tell me which line is shorter.  Can you do that?”

Well, of course I could.  I remember thinking that’s it?

I pointed to the shorter line and said, “That one.”

As soon as I said it, the other kids started whispering. 

“Are you sure?” he asked.

I looked again, “Yes.”

The speaker asked the boys and girls to tell me if I was right.

One-hundred pair of eyes stared me down and they started yelling, “No, that’s not it.  It’s the other one.” 

The sound was deafening.  I walked around and looked from a different angle.  I squinted.  I looked confused.

The kids continued to point and scream, “Choose the other one!”

And then I did the unthinkable when the speaker said, “Do you want to change your mind?”

I did.

I changed it. I picked the longer of the two, even though I knew it was wrong.

And that’s when everyone let me in on the secret.  The kids were told to pressure me to choose the other line.

“Thank you, Kristen.  You can sit down.  By changing your mind, you proved that peer pressure is powerful.”

I was dumbfounded.  Speechless.  I sat down in shock as the speaker continued on about the dangers of giving in to peer pressure.  I didn’t listen closely because I knew exactly what he was talking about.

Something happened deep within me that day.

I was disappointed that I changed what I knew was right to make other people happy.  But I also vowed in my heart that day to never give in.  I would be strong, no matter the pressure.

That’s the day I found my voice. 

That's the day I became me.

I'm tackling peer pressure with one of my kids today, click here to read some other tackles.

Food for the Soul:

“As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the LORD is flawless. He is a shield for all who take refuge in him.”- Psalm 18:30

Come back tomorrow for a very fun giveaway!


Kim said...

What a wonderful story and a GREAT lesson on peer pressure. I just might use the idea in my classroom! Peer pressure can be a great friend or an insidious enemy!

blessedwith5 said...

Peer pressure is horrible and oh so real!

Thanks for the great lesson! The enemy seeks who he may devour - devour through peer pressure.

Will keep you and yours in prayer.

Muthering Heights said...

That's a great example or peer pressure, but what a sadistic experiment! Poor you!

Marni Tiani Self said...

That is AWESOME! What a great example, those kinds of things are awesome!

Dawn said...

What a great story and even greater that you learned and took to heart that lesson in the 5th grade. I see so many adults who have yet to find themselves.

I've said a prayer for you tonight as you deal with this issue with your daughter. It's a topic that comes up frequently in our household, too.

Blessings, Kristen!

MoziEsmé said...

What a memorable lesson! Though I would have hated to be in your shoes.

Gigi said...

Although it was a harsh experience aren't you glad that you found yourself in fifth grade instead of later in life? I say good for you!

I love reading your posts Kristen, and hope some day mine will be as introspective and meaningful.

P.S. He loves you... said...

My goodness you write well and that you remember the details! What a gift you have for sharing! Continue to do so that you will be blessed for blessing us!

Danny said...

Thank you for sharing this story and taught a lesson about not giving in to peer pressure. God bless!

happyathome said...

What I find interesting is I was just having a conversation about this at my knit class last night! You write so well, nice blog! Stop by some time.

Anonymous said...

Geez, they couldn't teach that lesson in a less public forum? Great lesson but sorta harsh.

Hey, I think you learned a tad earlier than me. I didn't stop succumbing to peer pressure till just last year. Seriously.

Phyllis said...

That's such a great way to illustrate what could be a very difficult lesson. I'll definitely be tucking that one away for future use with my kiddos -- thanks so much for sharing it!!

Heather said...

Thanks for sharing your story ... what a *great* illustration!!

marky said...

wow..what an example! Do you think that they would allow such a speaker in todays schools?

The Apron Queen said...

Peer pressure is THE most difficult thing to deal with as a parent. I can only pray that have given my kids enough strength, hard-headedness & stubborness to make the right choices. And to NOT use that will power against me! :D

For your daily dose of vintage goodness & a bit of silliness, stop by Confessions of an Apron Queen

Suzie said...

I love that story. What a great lesson to learn.

Jenn said...

What a great way for you to learn the power of peer pressure. I was so easily swayed by my peers. I wish I would have had the courage to say no. Thanks for a great post!

asnipofgoodness said...

It is so interesting what God uses in our lives to mold and shape us into what he wants us to be. That was agreat story, thanks for sharing!

Mrs. Querido said...

Wow...what an object lesson for us all. I usually find myself trying to please everyone, and wondering what they think of me. I'm working on this one too!

And I agree with another commenter, you have an amazing memory. Especially AFTER having KDIS...lol :)


Mrs. Q

Jamie @ Purposeful Pursuit said...

What a powerful lesson! I only wish I would have learned it at such an early age.

'Till we Kiel over... said...

Wow, that is a great story! I am glad you were able to learn from that experience and subsequently teach your kids!

Toni said...

What a powerful demonstration. That should be done in every elementary school!!!

I think I will pass this on to my Mom (a school supervisor) and one of my friends who is a k-8 principal!

Lisa J said...

I knew exactly where you were going with that soon as I started reading...that is a great way to show peer pressure. I taught the 5the 5th graders for 16 years in the DARE program and it was a lot about peer pressure. I am so glad you were able to see what he meant and you were able to find your voice. I think that was a great thing your school did and I am very impressed. I might suggest that very thing to some of my teacher friends.

Pregnantly Plump said...

What a powerful lesson! Wow.

Happy Mommy said...

I wish we would have had a speaker like that at my elementary school it would have saved me a whole lot of heart ache later!

Neurotically Yours: said...

WOW!! What a great story. It's amazing how things like that affect us forever....I'm glad it turned out to be a postive one for you :)

Anonymous said...

I bet you were the one most affected by the assembly that day. I hope I can remember this story and use it some day to help some other kids learn this lesson a little less painfully.

Big Hair Envy said...

Great story. Fourth grade was tough on my daughter, and the SODA teachers (High School students who go into the classroom and share their experiences) made the biggest difference in her life. She is now a second-year SODA teacher, and is thrilled to have the opportunity to give back.

The Fritz Facts said...

Such a great story. The power of our friends grows all the time. It takes very little for a person to give into certain pressures. Thank you for reminding us of this.

iPost said...

So powerful! My son is moving to middle school in about a month. I am terrified. But don't tell him that!

Karen said...

Good for you, finding your voice at such a young age!

Lynn said...

What a wonderful story with a great lesson.

Heidi said...

Great post!I love that one & it inspires me to tell my first time I found me... wish it was sooner than my first year of college though. Thank you for sharing.

Valarie said...

We did something like this as Adults at church camp this year. It was a really neat experiment.

Lori Robertson said...

Great story and great inspiration to not buckle under peer pressure.