There is rumored to be a beast inside of all of us. Beady-eyed and covered in barbs, the beast cultivates our worst instincts, sowing the seeds of paranoia in our minds. This beast feeds off insecurities and isolation, cherishing anguish and solitude. Many people entering college avoid joining organizations and contributing to campus life because they fear rejection and failure.
Although the fear of getting involved is understandable, one should be conscious not to feed the beast. Getting involved — whether it be in Greek Life, the political scene, multimedia or the table tennis club — is a worthwhile goal. Since involvement helps one make new friends, interact with diverse perspectives and provides a sense of purpose, failing to put oneself out there is a self-inflicted harm.
The first and most obvious reason to get involved is making friends! As almost everyone knows, friends can significantly enhance all parts of life. It is pleasing to share one’s experiences with others and the relationships built up as a result of putting oneself out there are worthwhile. Bill Watterson, author of “Calvin and Hobbes,” states it best, “Things are never quite as scary when you’ve got a best friend.” Finding a best friend is a lot easier to do when one is involved. Those who join organizations will likely find students who have similar interests to them. Even if one struggles to find those with similar interests, refining one’s social skills will come in handy. Getting involved increases the number (and probably quality) of interactions one has, which provides more opportunities to learn and empathize. Especially after a pandemic, the desire to feel understood is widely felt. While it may be tempting to consider going home every weekend, especially after the last year of isolation, joining things is a way of strengthening our better angels.
Interacting with a wide variety of perspectives is valuable. Many who come to college come from small towns or big cities. Few, if anyone, have the experiences and cultural context of both. Taking advantage of the opportunity to better understand others helps one better understand themselves, and why they think and feel the way they do. Furthermore, being in proximity and engaging with different viewpoints, contexts and perspectives allows for intellectual growth. After seeing another perspective, one has a more complete chance to understand why one believes what they do. Activities like the school newspaper or the radio exposes people to perspectives they are better off having heard. Going to different cultural events is also fun! New types of food, dance and music are further reasons to show up to new places. Engaging with people different than you allows you to bridge divides and better understand people’s common humanity.
Finally, and most importantly, getting involved provides a sense of purpose. Being able to test out new things allows one to better understand what they want to get out of education. Being granted the chance to test out inklings of different careers allows people to better understand their choices. For example, many people who get involved in college television end up working a similar career after college because they have the experience, knowledge and built-up passion from already having done some.
Getting involved is chicken soup for the soul. It nurtures one’s natural need to have deep connections, to self-actualize and to find joy and passion. The beast is anxiety personified, and feeding it involves starving oneself.