Watch Ashley Freeman’s story or read below…
Have you ever walked into a classroom feeling like everyone is staring at you? When you get called upon to read aloud to the class, does your heart beat like a bass drum that you hope others can’t hear? When someone talks to you, do you sweat and stumble over your words and end up feeling like a complete fool?
I never wanted to admit that lack of confidence was a problem for me, but in school I was always the person who was extremely shy and quiet, always keeping to myself, trying to be invisible. When someone asked me a question, I would attempt to answer, but I would lower my eyes and my voice would get very quiet, making it hard to hear what I was saying. The other person probably thought I was rudely ignoring them.
The first day of class in college, as I was looking around at all of the students coming in, I realized the biggest obstacle I had to face was me. My low self-confidence, low self-esteem, and my extreme quietness were going to be a huge challenge.
When I had decided to attend college, I was a little scared, but I had plenty of love and support from my family and was excited to attend. I knew my grades wouldn’t be a problem, as I had really good study habits. Due to health issues, I attended high school through an independent study program. I was able to graduate with good grades, but I never had to be around anyone except my teacher. I lacked social skills with people my own age, but I always had my homework done early and for all of my hard work, I graduated three months early.
The first day in college, however, I was a nervous wreck, wondering if I had made a huge mistake by enrolling. The teachers announced that we would be doing group activities, partnering with others, reading aloud, and forming study groups to strengthen our skills. I panicked, and all I could do was tell myself not to give up.
As the days passed, I said little or nothing during my classes. In my English class, I partnered with Annette, a woman who befriended me the first day despite my quietness. The class uses the On Course book, and we started learning strategies that could help us. I was still nervous, but after reading about some of the strategies, I decided to take more actions to get the most out of my college education and experience. I became determined to prove to myself and everyone else that I could succeed in college.
In order to create what On Course calls a “success identity,” I made a 32-day commitment to be more outspoken. One promise I made was to talk to at least three people every day. Another was to read out loud in front of the class without having to be asked by my teachers. I also decided to volunteer more in class and share more of my work without being embarrassed.
I decided to ask more questions during and after class as well as offer help to my classmates. I even asked my teachers and classmates for written feedback about my efforts to be more self-confident and participate actively in class. Not only did they give me this feedback, some even wrote me inspirational praise.
I’m very proud of myself for all of the changes I’ve made and that I’m still making every day. I am inspired to continue to grow and reach my full potential, and I’m grateful to all of the people who have been so kind to me and helped me see that I can do it. During the semester, we were asked to write an essay about what we had learned in the course, and my teacher announced that students would be able to read their essays in front of the Copper Mountain College Board of Trustees.
I was so proud of the progress I had made that I was the second student in the class to volunteer. As I read my speech, I felt my confidence growing and was even able to make a good amount of eye contact with my audience.
After my speech was done, I thanked everyone and as I walked back to my spot I started crying, knowing I had accomplished my goal. Thanks to learning On Course strategies and receiving encouragement and motivation from my family, teachers, friends, and classmates, today I have stronger self-confidence and a more positive outlook on my future than ever before.