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October 1, 2022
Ithaca, NY | 64°F

Opinion

Commentary: Students must embrace exploration and rejection

Ever wanted to try something completely new but were scared you wouldn’t like it? Maybe it will turn out badly? Maybe you’ll be rejected? Welcome to Mandy’s guide on how to not fear rejection and why trying new things is a vital part of a young adult’s life and growth. We do not emphasize enough the importance of exploring. From personal experience, trying things out of your comfort zone can be greatly impactful because you learn so much more about who you are through change and new experiences. 

A little bit about me: I am an explorer at heart. Not only a postexploratory major here at Ithaca College, but that girl who is not afraid to try new foods, sports, activities or lifestyle habits. 

Many people think entering college with an undecided major is a negative thing, that all 18-year-old Americans must have a plan for their whole future, academic and social. This is a major stereotype that connects to exploring new options. Just like people are afraid to do things without a plan, they fear trying new things. However, the majority of college students, including me, change their major at least once through their college experience, just as trying new things will make you grow as an individual. 

Why try? Trying new things can be scary, but I promise it is so rewarding. Since exploring can inherently mean rejection, let me give you my resume for all the things I have tried out for on campus and did not make it into: club swim, club volleyball, IC Voicestream …  the list goes on and on. Let’s also not forget I lived in a completely new country this year! Studying abroad in Barcelona, Spain, was the hardest thing I’ve done in my adult life for many reasons, but mostly because everything was so new. My Jerseygirl, suburb heart had never lived in a large city before. I went without knowing anyone and discovered that the most difficult things in life are sometimes the most impactful. I even tried new foods like whale and escargot this year. So why not try? Trying new things helps you learn more about who you are as an individual; it helps you discover your likes and dislikes, which is especially important in a young adult’s life. 

So how do you actually become okay with receiving the answer no or trying new things? First, you have to be confident. Sadly, this is not something that can necessarily be taught, but can definitely be facilitated by “faking it till you make it,” and surrounding yourself with people who make you feel good on the inside and the outside. Secondly, your feelings are valid. It is OK to be sad about not making it into a club you had expected and/or hoped you would get into. It is OK to be surprised that something did not meet your expectations. Letting yourself feel your feelings is an important part of rejection — because in my experience, if I do not, they can uncomfortably manifest in physical and mental ways. Accepting reality is the third step. There isn’t a timeline or an exact science to doing so, but knowing that you tried and sometimes you can even try again is totally good enough. Doing something new takes guts, and you should be proud of yourself. Fourth: re-validation. You did that. Congrats! Telling myself those things after stepping out of my comfort zone has been so important and impactful to my young self. And if no one has told you recently, I am proud of you. 

This all being said, I encourage you to try something new this semester. Not enough people explore, even when it is as easy as trying a new food or drink, or something bigger like trying out for a club on campus. Do not worry about not making it, because whether you do or do not, I promise it will impact your life. Any impact is growth, everyone’s individual and different life experiences are different and all valid. You’ve got this.