Quit being shy in class

By Meredith Pratt | Assistant News Editor

“It is better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and prove it.”

Abraham Lincoln and Mark Twain are both rumored to have said that. Although I do not know the origin of the quote, I do know one thing — it has haunted me for years!

I have always been a naturally a shy person, but as I entered college, I also began to worry more about what people thought of me. My classes at Baylor were filled with so many brilliant students, I couldn’t help but be intimidated.

I started to believe the lie I told myself that I was less knowledgeable than my peers. I convinced myself it was better to let them do all the talking in class because they probably had better, more interesting contributions than I would.

Raising my hand in class was never something I even considered. Forget the participation grade, my participation was just showing up.

Several of my teachers noticed that I was holding back. They knew they would have to ambush me with a question for me to open my mouth.

When I was called on, I would keep my answer short and to the point. No need for extra commentary.

One of my professors actually wrote an email encouraging me to speak up in class because he knew from my writing that I would positively contribute to the class discussions.

But my fear of being wrong and looking foolish did not ease up.

The only thing I hated more than a discussion was a debate. Count me out of those. Professors wanted me to not just talk … but argue in front of the entire class! No way.

Unfortunately, talking has been a large component in many of my classes, so, it goes without saying that I have not always had the easiest time in college. However, I have come to realize that I have been doing myself a disservice by not speaking up.

Besides the obvious fact that my grades would improve with increased in-class participation, I also believe I would probably enjoy the classes more.

If I spoke up, maybe I could have befriended the professor, or become friends with my classmates. That alone would make going to class something I look forward to.

Better grades and more friends sound pretty nice.

It is annoying that it took me until the last semester of my senior year to have this realization, but it’s never too late to make a change.

Going forward I am going to try my best to raise my hand and speak my mind in class. It will probably feel a little foreign at first, but I have a feeling it is going to be worth it.

Who knows, I may even learn to like it.

If anyone reading this has ever felt the same way as me, I challenge you to speak up, too. Know that in the classroom your voice is just as valid as anyone else’s.