Back to school—put first things first!

Originally appeared on

My freshman year in high school was about to start. I’d felt pretty confident at my old school, getting decent grades and feeling comfortable with my friends and the teachers. But at my new school, I knew only one boy. And most of the kids were from a different ethnic group and religious background. On the surface, it didn’t look like we had much in common. Plus, they were way more focused on academic and athletic excellence than I was, and I wasn’t sure I could keep up.

This negative feeling got worse one day, when my geography teacher told me to point out countries, rivers, and cities on the world map. It turned out I didn’t know the answers. Talk about clueless! And that wasn’t all. For days afterward, the teacher persisted in this exercise, embarrassing me in front of the entire class. I felt like a victim for sure.

That’s when my parents and my Sunday school teacher told me I needed to take control of the situation. Take control? How could I when everyone outperformed and outranked me at school?

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