Bold, Beautiful, Breaking Out of Your Comfort Zone
When I applied to Barnard, one of the supplemental essay questions asked me about a time that I “majored in unafraid.” At first, I wasn’t really sure what to say. I’d never been skydiving, performed in a talent show, or even eaten a particularly crazy food. But as I thought about it, I realized that just because I hadn’t climbed Mount Everest didn’t mean that I’d never taken a risk. My everyday life was full of minor ways in which I faced my fears. I hadn’t thought much about it before the essay, but I realized that the best parts of high school often happened when I left my comfort zone. So when I got to college, I decided to turn my accidental bravery into something a bit more intentional. Every semester that I’ve been at Barnard, I’ve made it a goal to try something new. I still haven’t gone skydiving, but many of my best experiences at college have resulted from the times that I’ve done something I’d never done before.
In the first week of my first semester here, I saw a flyer for a space club. I almost walked out of the interest meeting when I realized that space meant aerospace engineering--I’d never done anything with engineering in my life. But I wanted to join a club in college, and the people seemed nice, and I decided to give it a shot. Almost immediately, I found an incredible community and a group of space nerds who quickly became some of my best friends at school. I started participating in a design competition, and before I knew it, I was presenting a real engineering project that I helped design. I’ve been able to turn my interest in space into a real, tangible hobby that I get to work on every week, all because I decided to take a risk.
In January of my freshman year, I started my new job giving tours at Barnard. I was pretty nervous going into it -- I’d never done much with public speaking before, and the stakes felt pretty high. I knew that when I was looking at colleges, the tour guide could make or break my impression of the school. I didn’t want to screw that up for anyone. But I love Barnard, and I’d always really liked the idea of working in the admissions office, so I applied anyway. One year in, I absolutely love my job. I get to talk about how much I love my school every week, and hearing students tell me that my tour made them like Barnard is incredibly fulfilling.
This fall, I took on a leadership role in my space club. I wasn’t sure about it at first--with a heavy workload, two jobs, and other extracurriculars, I didn’t know if I had time for much else, and I’d never had a serious leadership role in any club before. But I was thrilled about the prospect of leading the club’s outreach programs and teaching kids about something that I was passionate about. Although I have since moved into a different leadership role in the club, choosing to apply to run outreach has had the most far-reaching effects of all the risks I’ve taken. Not only did I get to join the board of this club I loved, but I also learned just how much I love science education. In fact, I loved it so much that it’s now pretty high on my list of career goals. I’m not sure if I ever would have discovered that had I not decided to apply for the position.
This semester, I decided to take an art class. I’d always considered myself pretty un-artistic, but did occasionally miss the mandatory drawing class I took my freshman year of high school. I stumbled across a class that counted towards my major and decided to try again. My art class is my favorite class I’m in this semester. I might not be Picasso, but I’ve learned a ton and it’s been super satisfying to see how much I’ve improved since the first class. At our art show at the end of the semester, I loved being able to show my friends that I’d created work that I was really proud of. I even liked it so much that I’m planning on taking another art class in the fall.
From here, I’ve got more plans. In the fall, I want to join Orchesis, a dance group on campus that casts everyone who tries out. I’m pretty sure I’m a horrible dancer, but I’ve never really tried, and there’s nowhere to go but up! And next spring, I’m planning on studying abroad and leaving the country by myself for the first time. In between, I plan on seizing as many new opportunities as I possibly can. If I could give one piece of advice to people starting college, it would be to do the same. With so much happening all the time here, it’s so easy to step out of your comfort zone at Barnard. Whether it be taking a challenging class, trying a new hobby, applying for a leadership position, or anything else, there are so many chances just waiting to be taken.