I had a boss at my college work-study job that is, for lack of more sophisticated words, a real badass. She’s straightforward, no-nonsense, and a little intimidating. She’s also incredibly fair and understanding of everyone she meets. No exceptions. She’s traveled the world and stood up for herself and the people she loves in the face of a lot of bullshit. She has this one quote that I’ll doodle in my journals forever, probably:
Feel the fear and do it anyway.
(I was feeling inspired to hop on the incoming-college-freshmen-advice-train since reading Hannah’s post last week. And since we’re a year post-college, that makes us qualified to spout wisdom to the freshies, right? Come, drink from my fountain of knowledge!)
As Hannah so beautifully wrote, if you’re about to go to college, you’re probably freaking out. And that’s okay. My advice to you is to keep freaking out, actually. Because the first semester of college is a lot of adjusting and growing and being a little uncomfortable at times. But then you get comfortable. You build a community and a family and a home.
My hope for you guys is that you don’t stay comfortable. I hope you continuously put yourselves in situations that make you nervous. And excited. And afraid. And hopeful.
I hope you feel the fear, and I hope you do it anyway.
In college, there will be plenty of opportunities for you to say yes.
Wanna get lunch sometime?
Wanna read something at this open mic night later?
Wanna come to a party with us at some mysterious, far-off apartment?
Wanna drop everything and move to some random town in Colorado for three months?
I hope you say yes, even when the thought of doing it makes you squirm with nervous anticipation. Because- and I’m sure you know this- incredible things can come from leaving your comfort zone.
New friends and different perspectives and stories to write home about. A new favorite song or life-altering book. A cool sticker for your water bottle. And I know this all sounds unbelievably cliché, so let me give you some examples from our time at school.
After a semester of eating lunch together every single day, I agreed to move in to a dorm room with this weirdo.
We were both a little nervous because we really wanted to be best friends, but we weren’t quite best friends yet and it would suck if the whole sharing-a-tiny-room thing didn’t work out.
As many of you know, it did.
Having never traveled before, I boarded a plane to live in another country where I didn’t know a single soul. I ended up meeting some of the best friends I’ve ever had.
All the anticipation in the world couldn’t have prepared me for the memories I’d make in Ireland.
On a Wednesday night of our freshman year, Hannah asked me if I wanted to go see a feminist speaker on campus. (We attended lectures like this a lot over our years at UNH. We were, without fail, some of the only people there who weren’t required to attend for a class. Nerds forever.)
We walked in, unsure of what to expect. We walked out in existential calamity. Our views of the world haven’t been the same since.
Just this past year, Hann and I struck out on our own, moved exactly one town over from UNH, and started our adults lives with two new friends that we didn’t know that well before, other than the fact that we thought they were cool. (Sam and Abs, we still think you’re really cool.)
Me, Abby, and our friend Alison had all been denied by Colorado grad programs within the same week. The moment Abby found out she didn’t get into University of Northern Colorado, she texted me and asked if I wanted to be roommates for the fall. The moment I saw the text, I agreed.
Finally, on a hungover Sunday morning, Abby and I looked for summer jobs out west. When I got the call that we’d been offered jobs in Estes Park, a little part of me panicked. I kind of thought this would never actually work out! I blurted to my mom on the phone.
I had no idea how I was going to escape school for the summer. (Grad school holds you hostage all year round.) I’d never waited tables before. I knew almost nothing about the restaurant or were we’d be living or the town itself.
Oh man, was I feeling the fear.
But we did it anyway. And, like all the times before, I’m so glad we did.
So I have a challenge for you. At some point this year, when you have the opportunity to say either yes or no, choose yes. Especially if the little voice in your head is screaming no no no just go home and watch Netflix it’ll be so much easier!
It doesn’t have to be some grand adventure. It can be a low-key, Wednesday-afternoon kind of thing. Sometimes those are the best kind.