Toward the end of my first year, my flatmates had created a life for themselves; joined their niches in the form of societies, and came back late at night with exciting stories and Sprinkles plans for the next day. Looking back, I was living a kind of one-sided symbiotic relationship with them; waiting for them to walk in so I would have someone to keep me afloat.
Over the summer I rekindled old school friendships to pass my time, and it was good enough for the meantime, but I realised that I felt no more at home here than I did at uni – somewhere where you’re told you are meant to find your friends for life. Something needed to change. I remember looking at myself and thinking, I have the whole world in front of me, a wealth of new experiences waiting for me, and I realised that if I wanted them, I would have to go out there and grab them myself.
Come October I threw myself into taster session after taster session for just about every society under the sun. No more excuses, I thought. I tried volleyball, netball, lacrosse, and realised, hell, I really can do anything I want. I pursued lacrosse, threw myself into what felt like a pit of lions by turning up to the first social completely on my own, persevered, and talked to as many people as I could. Now I am part of an inconceivably huge network of friends – a whole new life unlocked just from saying “you know what, I’m going to change my life into something I am proud of, into something positive.” I threw away my safety blanket and dared to walk without a harness.
Perhaps the most important thing to take from this story is that this didn’t just fall into my lap. Things just don’t fall into your lap, they fall into your line of vision and you have to go out there and get them before they disappear. Don’t get me wrong, I am in no way saying that you should all up sticks and join a sports society. Not all of us are interested in marathon running or hiking mountains – I get it. But I am absolutely saying that you should do something about your life if you are unhappy about it, and take up every opportunity that presents itself to you. Yes, it is hella scary, and yes, you have to literally throw yourself out of your comfort zone into a situation where your head screams “Retreat! Retreat!”, but if you never break out of your safety zone, you will miss out on so many opportunities to keep on growing while at university.
People excuse taking up opportunities by drawing on their inept social ability, or their lack of bravery. But I am telling you now that no-one is born brave, courageous, or outgoing; shy, coy or unsociable. You are only born with the opportunities to be those things, and it is up to you which of those opportunities you take.
Although now I have found myself quite literally in the film ‘Yes, Man’; never able to let a night out, coffee date, or whisperings of a Sprinkles rendezvous pass, where I have gotten to in just one year is almost unimaginable. Never did I think I would be able to do half of the things that I have achieved through simply joining a society, and all because I said yes.