Why It's Never Too Late to Try Something New

I’m that girl that walked into college with a twelve-year plan: I gave myself a deadline to be engaged (end of undergrad), when to get married to still have my last name following that “Dr.” title (after med school), and a very short timeline to have children (after residency, but before I turned 30 and became ~old~). The only things left for me to figure out were, well, a husband, and taking all the right steps to get to this end.  


Not only did I wholeheartedly believed in my ability to accomplish all of this flawlessly, but also that this was the only way, not only to live and aspire for, but to be. 


Then, life hit me. I failed my second chem exam, was told “no” on countless applications for positions I had to have in order to be successful, fell behind in classes, fought with my friends, ran out of money and was too proud to admit it, and was genuinely miserable. So, I threw out the master plan and started fresh. 


For me, this meant throwing myself headfirst into SO MANY new things. Club Soccer. Marine Corps OSO (only for a week – that’s a whole story on its own!). Bible Study. A piano class--for credit--with no experience. Binge watching an entire show on Netflix for the first time in my life. Pre-professional clubs. None of these struck the right chord for me either, though.  


I remember the days I spent poring over SLU Groups, trying to find something, anything, and doing the same process with several combinations of majors, minors, and professional programs. In fact, I had a list on a sticky note of organizations I wanted to try to join in the fall. For some of these organizations (namely, the sororities), fall would be the next chance to join them. 


But for the rest of that list, why didn’t I send an email? Or go to a meeting? You can join a lot of groups mid-semester. Was it a lack of knowledge or an inertia to putting myself out there for rejection yet again? 


The fear of rejection, failure, or whatever word you choose to use, is often the biggest hurdle to trying something new, especially for our generation. If we can’t do something perfect on the first try, then why try at all? We logically know this is wrong: Albert Einstein didn’t come out of the womb screaming his theory of relativity (or at least to my knowledge), Elon Musk didn’t arrive on the tech scene in a Tesla, and I certainly don’t have to try make dinner without setting the fire alarm off, right? 


And yet, here I am: writing my first ever article and first ever article for HerCampus. And I’m really enjoying it! I’ve dyed my hair so many times this year, just to try the whole process out, too. Next year, I’ll be trying even more things, as I try to make my senior year fun, more laid-back, and memorable. Here I am, still getting back up and throwing some more spaghetti at the wall to see if it sticks. 


The classic posts on Pinterest, or whatever inspiration site you use, will tell you that most of the “greats” didn’t get their fame, fortune, or company at 18. Or 20. Or even 30. And most of them, failed. A lot. As cheesy as they are, they have always given me a bit of reprieve from the endless cycle of feeling like I’ll never figure it out, even though I just started this whole adult thing.  


Now, as a second semester junior, three majors later, and after lots of therapy and reflection, I can look back and see the problems with my thought patterns, my actions, and my intentions my freshman year (and yesterday). I wasn’t following my heart or soul; I was doing what I thought I was supposed to be doing. 


It certainly hasn’t been smooth sailing since my freshman year, and I most definitely still catch myself doing things I think I need or should be doing, but I am a masterpiece that is still a work in progress. 


So, keep trying. Keep failing! Keep getting those rejection letters. You’re only getting closer to that one thing that sets your soul (and hopefully not your kitchen) on fire.