By Abigail LaFontan, OUR Peer Research Ambassador
Imagine this, you’ve written an email to a professor whose research project is the one you know you want to join; you’ve read it over twice, and it states everything you need to include. But now you’re hesitating to send it because a million different possibilities are running through your head. You start second-guessing your qualifications and your reason for sending this email in the first place and it takes a while to muster the courage to hit send (or even worse, you never hit send!).
Does that sound like you? I know it sounds like me when I first started as a freshman at UConn. Through the past 3 years one thing that I am truly confident I developed through my college experience as a whole is the ability to make decisions and act on those decisions, especially when it comes to something that may stand in your way as a barrier to entry.
The act of committing to something or making a serious decision, whether it be by sending an email through which you are seeking research opportunities, submitting a final essay for a class, or opening a test booklet to see your score, can be very daunting. I used to hesitate like this before every major decision I had to make, and, though I would eventually work up the courage to hit send, it would set me back in whatever I was doing and add unneeded stress into my day. That is until I started to develop my own personal philosophy and I was able to understand the importance of taking the first step. I realized I could always change my mind or do something else if the opportunity fell through, but that I would never know what was possible unless I tried. I honestly do not know the true source of this change, it could have been because the professor for my W-class during sophomore year was so insistent about getting words down on the page before editing, or it could have been from a movie I watched or it even may have been inspired by a quote I found on Pinterest. Regardless, I started realizing the value of taking 20 seconds of courage to start, send, open, or do whatever it was that I couldn’t seem to push myself to do and it has made all the difference.
As a student, decision making is a vital skill because there are so many opportunities out there to pursue. Remember, though, that you cannot open doors without taking the first step and it is so important to put yourself out there, especially when it comes to pursuing your passions at school. It’s a daunting idea to intentionally head into a vulnerable space but, you will not know what you are capable of unless you reach out and try. Remember that you can always find another way to do something if your attempt doesn’t work.
So, when you’re going out of your comfort zone, think of how much it will take to get the ball rolling. Usually, about 20 seconds of courage will do.
Abigail is a senior majoring in Political Science and minoring in French. Click here to learn more about Abigail.