This past few weeks have been a whirlwind of amazing new experiences! I’ve been working hard at my internship and we just had our first major event (a HUGE success by the way), got interviewed for the college website and marketing material, have been conducting interviews myself for my summer research, and I’ve been meeting TONS of new people! Needless to say this is a summer of firsts.
I haven’t always been shy, but somewhere along the way I lost a lot of confidence. I struggled to speak up, became afraid of trying new things and lost confidence in my abilities. It went on for a while like this, until I got to college. It really could not have come at a better time for me.
Just going to college itself was enough to make me buckle at the knees. I had always thought that I couldn’t wait to get out of my house and out of my town to see the world but I soon found that meant leaving my friends, family, and the comforts of home behind. I was being forced to be entirely independent and did not know anyone. I found the transition really hard and often questioned if this was really where I needed to be at this point in my life. I struggled to adapt, trying desperately to find the balance between school, friends, and sleep. I called home nearly every day sobbing, something I never in a million years thought I would do, and wanted to go home.
It was only once I started to venture out did things start to change for me. I joined a few clubs and weekly activities, started to hang out with the people on my floor and started to speak up in class. It was like emerging from being underwater, suddenly the world was crisp and clear.
The second year was even better. This was my year of adventures, for the lack of a better word. I pushed myself to meet people besides my floor, joined study groups, joined more clubs, and just generally hung out with people whether this was just playing frisbee or getting food downtown. Then there was my white-water kayaking trip, adventures by the quarry, and a retreat that spring. I dyed my hair, starting going to the gym regularly and was gaining confidence by the day. The more I felt confident, the more confident I became. I started an inspirational quote wall and became motivated each and every day.
One particular quote that I tried to keep in mind was this:
That was one thing that I tried to do as much as possible was stay optimistic. They say, the more positive you are, the more positive things come to you. That was my mantra, and it certainly was improving my outlook on things. As a final adventure that year, I signed up for a class in France for the summer and I couldn’t have asked for anything more. It truly pushed me to meet people I didn’t know, adapt in a world that was unfamiliar to me, and spent time enjoying the experience. That’s something I hadn’t been doing much; I usually keep my head down and rush around, always thinking about the next thing I needed to do, but France taught me to enjoy the experience while you’re in it.
I ate way too many baguettes and crepes, stayed up way too late every night playing cards, swam in a pond that was way too cold, saw enough beautiful architecture to last me a lifetime, and couldn’t have had a better experience abroad. That experience took me right into my junior year and I decided to take it by storm.
Junior year was filled with more new things than ever, and I did a lot of “growing up” that year. I had my first real interview, started working with at-risk kids downtown, started cooking my own food for when work ran late, and organized a trip to Ireland with a few of my friends. We had an absolute blast there and upon returning, I found I had more offers. First, a professor approached me and asked if I had plans for the summer. At the time, I was only thinking about heading back to my part-time job at home and said no. She said that she thought I’d be very qualified to do research on campus this summer so together we drafted a proposal and awaited the news. Second, a woman in the event planning industry I had contacted a long time ago had emailed me saying that she was interested in taking on an intern and asked if I would be interested in meeting for coffee and to chat. Of course, I said yes and treated this meeting like a real interview. I dressed the part, brought along copies of my resume and reference letters, and showed up early. Needless to say, she treated it like an interview as well and hired me on the spot. I was BEYOND thrilled. Then I found out the my research proposal was accepted and that I was awarded a grant to do the research. That really set the tone for this summer.
And here we are now. Me, I’m having the time of my life this summer working on campus doing the research and off-campus at my internship. So many new people and things to do, I can’t help but jump right in! So take my advice. It’s a oldie-but-a-goodie for a reason…Get out of your comfort zone! Like Jasmine said, It’s a whole new world! Get out there and explore it, you might just find yourself while you’re at it.