Getting Involved in Campus Life: How to Overcome Your Fear and Get Out There

Some of you may have seen the image of two circles where one represents your comfort zone and the other circle indicates “where the magic happens.” It’s meant to represent your current and future success.

The concept makes sense as many people can look back and remember a time where they were vulnerable and took away lifelong lessons from those experiences. Without challenging ourselves, we run the risk of not becoming our authentic self within our communities. Whether it is a fear of failure or fear of success, we should push ourselves beyond our places of comfort and get involved in new opportunities.

“Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness.” Brené Brown

Putting yourself out there can often be easier said than done. All the aspirational quotes and images about getting over fears will not change your situation, that’s on you. I’m going to share a few tips that will help you to get involved in your campus community.

Know Where to Go

If you’re unsure how to get involved, ask. Often colleges will have multiple opportunities to get involved. Below is a list that may include opportunities in volunteering and some paid work study along with multiple events such as sports and concerts:

  • Student Activities Office
  • Student Unions or Hubs
  • Work study
  • Orientation events
  • Workshops
  • Student groups
  • Residence life
  • And many others

Let Go of the Fear (Easy to Say, Hard to Do)

To start, try to not take experiences personally. In campus communities, getting involved is not just about the individual; involvement makes the experience better for everyone. Sometimes flipping your perspective to focus on assisting others rather than yourself can help ease some of the fear of starting something new. Recognize that you may have a couple challenging or negative experiences before you catch a good one. After all, success is a journey not a destination.

Take Baby Steps

Ask friends to come with you to events. Once there, try to not spend the whole time with them but instead attempt to meet some other people. Join a student group that shares similar interests to you. This will help you to begin to build a community at your institution. Once you feel that you have a community, then begin to branch out to groups or events that you’re unsure if you agree with or perhaps you have misconceptions about. By building a strong foundation within a community, you can provide a launchpad for you to become involved in things that challenge you more.

Most Importantly Get to Know Yourself

Take some time to reflect on who you are. Be honest. Try to approach situations with your authentic self while being open to learning from others. There is no point in continuing to push yourself without staying true to who you are because it won’t pay off in the long run. Being vulnerable with yourself will make it easier to be vulnerable with others. Be okay with failure when putting yourself out there by forgiving yourself and others when an experience doesn’t work out how you had planned.

When people say that they aren’t interested in getting involved on campus, my advice is that we must be real with ourselves by asking what are we avoiding and what will happen if we continue to avoid it. Once we have established why we’re avoiding something we must move forward in challenging ourselves to address the issue. Generally avoidance is a coping mechanism that can hinder rather than help, particularly over time. Let’s be honest, if you asked anyone stepping on to a campus if they were anxious or have experienced fear, 90 percent would say yes, and the other 10 percent would be lying.

In short, it’s best if we’re true to who we are, help build communities, and step outside our comfort zones as much as we can. That’s the best way to take care for each other and ourselves.