Earlier this week, I was playing golf with my teammate and 2 guys we never met before who were in our group. (In case you don’t know much about golf, you generally go off in groups of four, so if it’s busy and you have less than four, there’s a decent chance other people will be added to your group.) Each of them were in their mid-fifties, and they were cool guys.
I was having a conversation with the one about college and how good of a time it can be. He told me to enjoy it while I was here because I’m probably only going to be in college once. This prompted me to ask him a question that I ask many people with more experience than me, a question that never fails to yield a good answer. “What is the most important lesson that you’ve learned in your life?” He paused a moment to think, and then responded, “Don’t play it too safe. I feel like I played it safe too many times in my life. Playing it safe is good; sometimes, it keeps you out of trouble, but don’t be afraid to go after what you want. Don’t be afraid to fail.”
I’ve been pondering this answer for the past few days, and I realized that I have some advice to give anyone entering college that pertains to this. College is an amazing time in your life. It can be whatever you wish it to be, and this time you’re entering now is the perfect opportunity to take some chances. College is a time overflowing with opportunities left and right, as long as you’re willing to keep your head up and look for them. At each of these opportunities, you will choose to either take it or pass. Some will be easy choices, either because you already know you love whatever it is or know it’s something you don’t enjoy.
There will be many, though, that you are unsure of. Many where you think you want to take it. Still, something is holding you back, whether that’s not wanting to go to an event without any of your friends, not wanting to talk to new people, or not knowing if you’ll enjoy whatever it is. Maybe you’re even afraid of other peoples’ judgment if you try something new and fail. Well, this is your sign, your signal, your wake-up call. Do not be afraid to take a chance. This is one of the best times of your life to be trying something new. If you’re thinking about joining a new club, do it. If you’re thinking about trying a new hobby, do it. If you’re thinking about doing something that could change your life for the better, do it. Go be more creative. Go be more sociable. You only have four years here, make sure you spend them doing stuff that you love.
To put it simply, regret sucks. It is one of the worst feelings we can experience because we can never go back and see “what could have been.” More often than not, we regret not the things that we did, but the things that we did not do. Now don’t get me wrong, at the end of your life, you may regret some of the things that you did. Still, from listening to those older than us, there is a greater possibility of you regretting the things that you did not do- the chances you didn’t take. One of the greatest lessons that you can learn is this- you are going to die. Now, this isn’t meant to be a scary thought or one that invokes fear. This is a thought that should compel you to be better.
As Steve Jobs once said:
“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything- all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure- just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”
There are many times in our lives that we are gripped by fear, too afraid to move. This should be a lesson that you will not soon forget- that this fear means nothing in the face of death. Other peoples’ negative opinions become a lot less important compared to the fact that one day you will die. Use this thought to your advantage. Do not live your whole life in fear, just to get to the end and realize that fear was a waste of your time.
When talking about taking chances in college, take note that this is referring to opportunities like starting that business, you’ve always had an idea for, or talking to new people. Taking chances in college does not mean risking your life to do something dumb. This goes without saying, but common sense still has to be used. Live life unafraid to go after what you want. (Just be smart about it.)
Like I said before, college can be whatever you wish it to be. Each opportunity could be a doorway to an amazing part of your life, so don’t be afraid to take a chance. Don’t live your whole life playing it too safe. I firmly believe that you should follow your dreams, try new things, and live your life in a way that you won’t regret. I believe that if you want to try something bold, just go for it. Because as a wise man once told me, “don’t be afraid to fail.”