I’m more than halfway through my junior year, and I’ve learned plenty of life lessons in college. While they’ve all been helpful, I think the most important one has been to try what interests you and be willing to fail.
Before I continue, keep in mind I’m not a living testimony to this. I may actually be the perfect example of what not to do.
My freshman year, I was hardly involved in more than one organization on campus. I didn’t bother to try out any new clubs because I was nervous about not knowing anyone or what I’d be doing. I stuck to my close friend groups and didn’t venture far out of my comfort zone.
It didn’t stop with just social groups and lack of being involved, either. I continued to not take a chance on myself and apply to internships. It’s hard to realize, but I’ve gotten this far and really only applied to a handful of jobs and internships because I thought I wouldn’t be good enough.
And at the root of all these problems? Fear. The fear of failing at anything and everything. The fear that I wouldn’t be good enough or that I’d be a disappointment to myself or others.
I’ve always been petrified of failure, and as a result, I’ve never really tried. I always think of Vince Vaughn’s quote in “Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story” about failure: “I found that if you have a goal, that you might not reach it. But if you don’t have one, then you are never disappointed. And I gotta tell ya … it feels phenomenal.” While his logic is sound, and he makes a convincing appeal, the world doesn’t move forward without failure.
Failure is the only reason we can fly across the country safely, insert ourselves into virtual reality and have the world at our fingertips. All the inventions and innovations we’ve been blessed with are the results of people who never let failure stop them. Humans would be stuck in the Stone-Age if it weren’t for bold ideas, big leaps of faith and failing time and time again.
So where does this leave all of us? It leaves us with a choice: to either continue living safely and not take any chances or take command and welcome failure as a crucial step in being successful.
If there’s one thing I regret about my college experience, it would be not letting myself fail more. The only way to improve and take steps forward is to fall down and get back up. So please, no matter where you are in your college career, heed my advice and know it’s never too late to stop taking the backseat to your fears and start taking chances on the things you care about.