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Getting “Involved” On Campus: Did I do it Right? 

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCSB chapter.

College & The “PlaGUe”

Entering UCSB as a first year in 2020 during the midst of COVID (or “the plague,” as one of my professors called it) made getting involved on campus seem next to impossible. Not only did the waters feel uncomfortably foreign as a first-generation student, but being online and trying to navigate what the school had to offer was a ball of confusion. So many different sites, hundreds of clubs, sports teams, and extracurriculars to choose from. The options were overwhelming, and I couldn’t see myself anywhere.

As is typical with newcomer students, I was eager to get involved but scrambled poorly to situate myself in this great complex web of opportunities. Worries of picking wrong, of forfeiting one club for another, left me immobile. I froze and didn’t join a single thing. I attended my zooms, for the few classes that weren’t asynchronous, and continued life in my hometown as if nothing had changed since high school. This made college seem way less intimidating than the stories I’d heard, but I wasn’t living the reality. That struck my second year when I finally moved on campus, just like so many others. At the same time life, while trying to mend itself into a new normal, instead placed us in the strangest limbo.  

a Hybrid life?

I felt awkward and out of place. It seemed I had lost the ability to meet new people after getting so comfortable with the strict few I could see during the pandemic. The whole idea of getting involved on campus became unimaginable. Covid made me into a Class-A hermit and I had no intention of leaving my cozy shell.

Though the terrible feeling that perhaps I was missing out couldn’t remain stagnant for long. I had to push myself out of the comfort zones that I hadn’t left in nearly two years. Scavenging the options at first felt futile, though my interests quickly narrowed as I started to be able to picture myself within various organizations.

I knew throwing myself into the most social of situations would do me no good, but maybe dipping my toes wouldn’t hurt. That’s when I found HerCampus. This very site you’re on right now. I don’t remember exactly how HerCampus and I met, but it was probably through my emails. For me, the never-ending list on Shoreline was never going to work out, but targeting my emails? That was a great tactic. 

bye bye shell, you were good to me.

I realized my hermit phase was simply that—a phase. Covid didn’t give us a choice in the matter, but I carry a certain fondness for my time spent in isolation. Nonetheless, it was time to come out of my shell and return to normal life, as much as that was possible. HerCampus was the ideal transition as the hybrid setup eased my Covid anxieties while also allowing me to feel like I was a part of something again.

I had always been in sports in high school, so that void felt quite immense when I got to college. I was always a part of a team, and HerCampus felt exactly like that but, instead of running, we were writing. I grew more confident and also joined CALPIRG, which has been the most rewarding part of my college experience thus far. 

Listening to Master Yoda

More recently, I’ve acknowledged that the idea of “getting involved” on campus could have looked a million different ways. As an anxious person, I always worry and question whether I made the right decisions. Though trying things out and having them not end up being your perfect match is better than doing nothing at all, paralyzed out of fear. As Yoda says,“Do or do not, there is no try.”

Plus, having a million different possibilities means that there will always be a backup, a backup for the backup, and so on. I also learned that getting involved on campus in my upperclassmen years was not a deficit to me in any way. I would’ve no doubt burnt out if I had followed through with every club and activity I originally wanted to pursue. The first few years of college humbled me greatly and reminded me that although socializing holds importance, my top priority was and will always be school, which I don’t view as a loss in any form. 


Lastly, the whole “college experience” and “getting involved” jargon always felt sort of blurred because I knew a different reality. College movies gloss over the overwhelmingly large vacuum that sucks up most college students’ time, such as classes, a job or jobs, and internships. These responsibilities take up the time I otherwise would have delegated to other activities if I had that choice.

Again, I think when picturing the ideal college experience and involvement on campus, it’s better to be selfish and put yourself in the center rather than constructing your perceptions around those of others. That’s just my take and experience, but I hope it helps reassure others that there’s no correct way to “do college,” which may be the best thing about it. 

Kristi is a third-year at UCSB studying sociology and history with a minor in feminist studies. In her spare time, you can find her trying to revive her peace lily, looking at photos of her dog, or watching benjiplant.