The original title of this post, “Just Do It”, was abandoned after potential legal recourse from Nike. However, it does have some bearing on the advice that follows, which is to get involved. “With what?”, you may be asking yourself, and my answer to that would be anything. Anything and everything. Go to a concert. Join a community theater group. Start an ultimate frisbee team. Try a new food. Move to a new city. Sitting on the sidelines may make for a stable, albeit boring, life. What I’m encouraging you to do is break out of your everyday routine, shake off comfortable complacency, and get your feet wet.
At my new university, there are so many things going on. It’s tempting to sit back and let it all happen without me, justified by claims of too much work and not enough time. Throughout my entire life, though, it’s been the moments when I’ve taken a risk and tried something new that have truly been the memories I want to cherish, and the experiences I want to have. Sticking your neck out there isn’t always easy. When I joined the color guard of the school marching band, I had never marched before in my life, much less done it while twirling a flag. Three years later, I may not have been the best twirler, but I was a co-captain of the section and had gotten to go to lots of new places and have great experiences because of it. Experiences like marching band helped me distinguish myself from other applicants when I was applying to my undergraduate school, and so their impact was far-reaching.
Even if there is no tangible benefit from doing something new, the experience will make you a more interesting, well-rounded person. The frequent guest lectures, movie screenings, and other cultural events that fill college campuses are well worth attending. They help you see the world in different ways, and take you outside of your own narrow perspective.
Furthermore, getting involved is good for your health, both mental and physical. How many evenings of snacking and a movie have I avoided because of exciting campus events? I’ve met tons of people at new events, and while many of those interactions were one-shots I’ve also formed real, valuable relationships.
I’m not saying I don’t understand why it’s tempting to just go straight home after classes and not do anything. Sure, you’re busy. Time is at a premium, money is tight…but you don’t want to look back on your life and remember only the excuses you made. Make a budget that incorporates some extra-curricular events! Plan your time out so that you start projects earlier rather than racing to get them done the night before. By finding the things that you enjoy doing and don’t enjoy doing, you’re learning who you are as a person. And that’s the most valuable thing of all.