Coming into EN455 earlier this semester, I knew the biggest thing that I would struggle with would be confidence. While I love to write and try to do so everyday, I have only ever let professors and the occasional peer read my work, never friends, never family, never the internet. When we sat down at Butler for our first meeting of the semester and Professor Speckman discussed the “Open Mic” portion of our time at Shortridge, I was petrified.

When we arrived at Shortridge on our first day I was immediately greeted by Sierra who not only introduced herself, but jumped right into my arms. Her friendliness and excitement to work with me immediately put me at ease. She dragged me to a table and started telling me everything there was to know about her friends, family, and boyfriend. While I can admit I was a little bit overwhelmed, it felt nice to know that she had immediately put so much trust into me.

Before we started on the assigned prompt for the day, Sierra took out a battered yellow notebook and put it in my hands. “Here’s everything I’ve written so far this year, what do you think?” I started to flip through the pages and was blown away by the raw emotion and creativity in her writing. Just as I was getting into it, she asked the dreaded question, “Can I see your notebook?” I had forgotten that my notebook was sitting on the table between us, I immediately regretted not leaving it in my bag. “Sure…” I said tentatively, heart beating faster than it should have been.

I watched her intently as she tore through the pages of my old moleskin, occasionally pausing at a line and telling me she liked it. My heart slowed down, and I started to love the idea of students reading my work. Unlike friends and family, I had no fear that the students would lie to me to please me, they didn’t owe me anything.

Within ten minutes of my first day at Shortridge, a thirteen-year-old girl that I had never met before gave me the confidence to share my writing that I had been missing for years. Now when students ask to read my work, I hand it over with pride.

Becky Bolton is a senior Recording Industry Studies major.