It is always easier to take the safe way out. That much is obvious. The familiar and predictable appeal to the big part of us that is afraid of a fall. However Frost once took the road less travelled, and he claimed it made all the difference. Who are we to argue with a renowned poet? College is about new experiences, finding out who you are and doing things that might put you slightly (or totally) out of your comfort zone. These things are likely to be the memories you remember with a smile, even if it is one of bemused embarrassment. Phrases such as ‘nothing worthwhile is ever easy’ are used for a reason – it is often the things that send shivers down our spines that are the most rewarding. It is time to push your boundaries.
The New Year is still fairly shiny and fresh, so as well as the usual fitness campaigns or study plans, add one extra resolution to your list: don’t let nerves, self-consciousness or even blatant terror hold you back.
Join that club
Love rugby, the environment or just a good cuppa? UCC has nearly 150 societies and clubs; odds are that there is at least one to appeal to most of us. However the thought of actually turning up to these things, especially without a friend, can be less appealing. Of course, you’ll join next week, or next month, or next year. Unless you plan on repeating your degree fifteen times, the years will eventually run out so finally let ‘next time’ become ‘this time’. You might hate it, but at least you’ll know you didn’t miss out.
Go on that year away
Now this one takes a little bit more of a commitment. A whole year is a long time and there are few college opportunities as daunting. Throw in the option of countries with a foreign language, and it all becomes a little bit stressful. Scratch that – extremely stressful. If you ask students that do take that scary step though, I guarantee very few, if any, regret it. Most will be delighted at the chance to tell you in excruciatingly, enthusiastic detail about how it was the best year of their lives. Instead of rolling your eyes at their twentieth recollection of that ‘hilarious night’, why not take a chance and join them? If you can’t beat them…
Apply for that job/internship
It’s easy to forget that we are in university not only to avail of the latest student night, but for the remote chance we might get a job afterwards. In an attempt to increase that sad looking chance, we are told to get experience, apply for an internship or get a summer job anywhere even half connected to our chosen field. Depending on how interested you actually are in life beyond the pub, these might not sound like such bad suggestions. Interviews and applications bring the chance of disappointment and failure – God forbid you actually get the job and have to put your skills to the test. Your future self will thank you though, and it could be just what you need to motivate you into doing some hard-core study in your final year.
Try out that new look
Granted, Cork may not be as accepting of risqué NY runway trends as New York itself. The lady in the College Nook is likely to give your new hat a long and disapproving stare, and even our own peers on campus can seem to be judging at times. In fact, you might not even have any interest in what you throw on before you stagger to class. However, if you care even a little bit, then this is the time to try new things and find out what you style you like – not when you are over the hill and wishing you could still fit into those shorts you are too scared to wear now. Forget about what anyone in the flat across the way, in Tesco or in the Boole thinks – if you like it, then wear it!
Think that your neighbours, people in your course or even your fellow ten o’ clock Centra shopper look nice? Instead of awkwardly pretending you don’t know each other (avoiding eye contact at all costs), why not actually say hi?
Easier said than done, but really no one has ever thought ‘oh, what a freak, they said hello’. Most people only act awkwardly because you are doing the same, and would be delighted to stop the uncomfortable pretence of not recognising each other. You might never get further than hey, or you might even make some friends. Either way, you are bound to feel a lot better about yourself, and look a lot friendlier as well.
There are no guarantees that everything here will work out for the best, but you will definitely have regrets if you don’t take some chances every now and again. Whether you try one of the above, or have your own risks you need to take, let 2013 be the year you finally try them out, even if you have to insult our ears by saying ‘YOLO’ as you do it.