I would not go as far as to say that I was a social outcast of sorts up until college, but I was definitely a wanderer; weaving in and out of friend groups and various cliques that I was able to temporarily fit in with, but those friendships collapsed under the social pressures from high school that most know all too well.
I graduated from high school with academic honors and various cords marking my involvement in clubs, which was cool and all, but I remember feeling strangely disconnected. I felt like an island. I was ready for bigger horizons and a new direction, and I planned on never looking back. As it turns out, there is no time to look back when all of the wonderful experiences that college can bring are happening right in front of me.
Danny Wallace, author of “Yes Man,” said “probably some of the best things that have ever happened to you in life, happened because you said ‘yes’ to something. Otherwise, things just sort of stay the same.”
I never knew how true this was until I began my junior year at Colorado State University, and I allowed myself to fully open up to new people and new opportunities. I have come so far out of my comfort zone, and made so many connections and unexpected memories, simply because I have learned to say “yes” to the things that intimidate me.
The first time I ever walked into the student media office in the LSC during my freshman year, I was handed an application to apply to be a reporter which I threw away as soon as I was out the door. I talked myself out of applying in less than 10 seconds because I was scared that I wouldn’t be good enough. I didn’t even try. It wasn’t until the spring semester of my sophomore year that my path crossed again with student media, and I was not going to let that go again. I swallowed my fear and insecurities, joined the summer news team, and now they can’t get rid of me.
I briefly entertained the idea of joining a sorority when I first arrived at CSU, but the anxiety over not fitting in or feeling socially displaced the way I did in high school scared me away. However, I am now a charter member of Kappa Alpha Theta, which is simultaneously one of the best and most nerve-racking decisions I have made thus far during college. You don’t have to “look” like a sorority girl, whatever that means, and I think that aspect alone can be very intimidating to some girls. I know it was to me at one point.
My inner circles expand every day, and all I had to do what get out of my element and let go of the fear and the expectations. I know that is much easier said than done. All it takes is one leap of faith, and suddenly you can’t get enough involvement. You just want to do more. I only wish that I had taken my leap a little bit sooner, because these four years are passing by at twice the speed of light.
New experiences and opportunities are scary. But knowing that your fears kept you from getting all you could out of college, knowing that you might leave this place with a less-than-overwhelming sense of pride in yourself and all that you did here, is even scarier.
Collegian Columnist Haleigh McGill can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @HaleighMcGill.