I’ve always been a big fan of quotes. Any of my Pinterest followers can attest to this: every other photo is a quote about dreaming big, working hard or doing more. I’ve spent many nights browsing through the inspirational quote accounts on Pinterest, thinking about the power of Winston Churchill’s proclamations about courage. Each night I go to bed feeling a tad superior, knowing that I am spending my time doing worthwhile things like being artsy while surfing the internet.
Recently, I’ve realized I am a hypocrite. All I do is read quotes about being adventurous without actually being adventurous. Staying at home watching videos about traveling to Cuba isn’t the same as going to Cuba, and it’s about time I change this. My mom (my biggest fan, my smartest adviser) and I talk about doing big things a lot. She herself has done a lot of big things in her life, like hitchhiking across Canada as a 17-year-old, rafting in Nepal with the Nepalese and living in Costa Rica. My mom is possibly the coolest person I know, and she has always encouraged me to travel and take risks, which is a support that I know many people don’t have.
I have a wonderful friend who lacks this support in her life. She is a halfway-first generation American and the first in her family to go to college, which means that she has a lot of pressure on her back already. My friend has spent her entire life trying to live up to her parents’ demands that she become a doctor. Instead of doing what she loves and majoring in English, she now attends UNR as a neuroscience major.
Too many students aren’t doing what they want because of pressure from people who probably didn’t do what they wanted in their own life, or because they fear failure or embarrassment or the judgment of their family. I am familiar with how scary failure is and the horror of being embarrassed. This is why I read quotes instead of living them.
Being afraid is a stupid reason to not do things. Fear has driven my life to so many places I never wanted to go, and it’s about time I stop this scaredy-cat train. The idea of never pursuing my goals and living an average life is much more terrifying to me than getting a little embarrassed or faltering a step on the way to these goals, and I am ready to throw myself wholeheartedly into the pursuit.
I encourage others to do the same. I encourage my friend, the brilliant first-generation student, to do what she loves despite the judgment of others. I encourage every student who feels as if they are stuck in a rut or not doing what they’ve always loved to take a step back and remove themselves from their fears. Look at the bigger picture and know that every successful, happy person was at one point just like you and me: a scared, broke college student wanting to do something but not knowing how.
I implore you to throw your trepidations to the wind. I know this is far more difficult than said and takes a lot more than just one random girl in one random newspaper piece, but I ask that you follow the lovely Tina Fey’s words of wisdom: “Just say yes and you’ll figure it out afterwards.” Say yes to the unknown, say yes to adventure and say yes to what you’ve always dreamed of. And go ahead and follow my Pinterest account.
Claire Carlson studies International affairs. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @TheSagebrush.