The fear of trying things alone


Last week, my friend and I agreed to go to a stand-up paddleboarding yoga class that evening. Neither of us had been before, but as the class time inched closer and closer, she was no where to be found (she fell asleep), and the thoughts started racing through my head, “Should I go to the class?”, “Should I just skip it?”, “Am I going to be awkwardly all alone?” In the end, I decided to suck up my fear and going by myself anyways. And I ended up loving it. I cannot wait for the next one.

I’m definitely one of those people who is shy about doing things alone. I used to always wish I could feel comfortable trying new things by myself whether it was trying out a new class or activity, or even just feeling comfortable going to my professors during their office hours.

Whenever I think of the benefits of going to see your professors, I think of two different instances during my undergraduate career that are kind of polar opposites of one another. In both cases, I made D’s the first time, and I had to retake the course. Both my professors were very kind and truly wanted to see their students succeed. However, in the first case, it was my biochemistry class. I was so intimidated by my professor even though he always tried to be amicable in class and encouraged students to visit him if they were struggling. However, I never went to go visit him because I kept telling myself, “Well I wouldn’t even know where to begin talking to him.” Both times I took the class, I struggled similarly with the class. In the end, despite having taken the class twice, I still walked away with little to no knowledge of biochemistry, a skill set that I still think could have added even more depth to my pursuit of a graduate degree. I’ve even toyed around with taking it yet again, this time hoping for more success understanding the material. In the second case, it was my molecular genetics class. Same deal as with biochemistry, despite my best efforts, I could not do well in the class, but this time, I sucked up my pride and fear (mostly fear), and went to go talk to my professor. He tried his best, but I still ended up with a D in the course. Since I was about to graduate, I opted to take the class over the summer, determined to master the material. So I began to go visit him; even when I didn’t have any concrete questions to ask. We would just talk about the material and the questions would begin to come up organically, and soon I realized I was getting a much better grasp of the material than I had the previous semester. More than that, I could finally get a good grasp and pace with the course even though it was a summer course and significantly more fast paced. I ended up with an A in the class the second time around, and to this day, it’s probably the A that I am the most proud of.

I know it’s probably easier said than done, especially if you’re like me and super introverted so you don’t meet people easily, but it’s definitely something I’m glad I’ve forced myself to go out and do more and more. Within the last several months, I’ve done a lot of firsts alone, I started going to a consistent yoga class (12 p.m. on Tuesdays at Summit). I’ve taken aerial silks and aerial yoga classes alone. I did that SUP yoga class alone. I’ve taken barre classes alone, and I hope to continue trying out new activities even if I’m alone. And I get it. Sometimes you need your friends there for support (for example, I probably will never take a spin class alone), but there is merit in putting yourself out there, plus you never know the people you will cross paths with that you wouldn’t normally talk to because you’re wrapped up with what is already familiar to you.

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