Whether your tongue is dry and cracked from licking invitation envelopes or you think you’ve sprained a finger by adding so many people to your Facebook event, there’s no doubt that graduation season is upon us.
Though this time can be an opportunity for renewal and a fresh start, it can be a scary time as well. Whether graduating from kindergarten, high school, or college, the ceremony marks a significant life event that means change is happening whether one wants it or not.
Instead of fear, though, people should approach this and other life transitions with excitement.
After all, it’s important that all graduates pursue their own paths in life, and the same holds true for anyone stepping into a new chapter. In order to do that, they need to step out of their comfort zones and be open to new experiences.
Evidence of this can be found all around us. For example, three students at Moundridge High School embody this idea — senior Maggy Adolf, sophomore Joseph Westerman, and freshman Ella Schrag.
These three make up 75% of the forensics team that has qualified for the Kansas State High School Activities Association Speech and Drama State Championship Tournament, which is taking place May 6 in Wichita.
For each of these students, it was their first time participating in speech and drama, which is more commonly known as forensics. By stepping out of their comfort zones and trying something different, they experienced accomplishments in a new endeavor.
In full disclosure, I am the debate and forensics coach at Moundridge High School this year, but I’m certain they did well despite my involvement.
Rather, they succeeded because they opened themselves up to a new experience.
“I was nervous I wouldn’t succeed. I’m kind of a control freak. When I try new things, I want to be good right off the bat, even though that isn’t how that works,” 18-year-old Adolf said. “Overall, it’s been a really good experience, though. I’ve gotten to try something new and found I really enjoy it.”
As Larry Alton suggested in an article published by The Huffington Post, trying new things can help individuals overcome their fears, develop a deeper understanding of who they are, and spark their creativity. The result can be increased happiness, which means, according to Juan Pablo Zapata at the University of Washington School of Medicine, symptoms of anxiety and depression can be combated.
Furthermore, researcher Barbara Backer Condon highlighted that trying new things can restrain boredom and lead to self-improvement. One’s confidence can be boosted too.
“It just made me realize I can just go in and do anything. Whatever happens, happens,” 16-year-old Westerman said. “There won’t be any real repercussions, so why not just enjoy it?”
Schrag, who is 14, agreed.
“It’s pretty rewarding to get to try new things and perform in front of other people and get over the fear of speaking in public. It’s scary, but you get over it pretty quickly,” she said. “You can really learn a lot about who you are and who you want to be.”
To be successful in a new venture, though, it is important to practice mindfulness and be intentional about what you try, and if you have to abandon perfectionism, as Kristi Hedges wrote for Forbes.
“You can surprise yourself at any point if you just try,” Adolf said.
For Westerman, trying one new thing has caused him to branch out even further, even signing up to sing “Sixteen Tons” by Johnny Cash at a karaoke event.
“I’ve gotten out of my personal bubble a little bit more,” he said.
For these reasons and more, trying new things and opening up to experiences is incredibly rewarding, so be bold and for it.
“You don’t know until you try. You could be really good at something you’ve never tried before,” Schrag said. “If you think there is any chance you might like it, try it. There’s a really good chance it could turn out to be something you really enjoy. You have nothing to lose.”
Todd Vogts is a native of Canton, a resident of McPherson County, and an assistant professor of media at Sterling College. He can be contacted with questions or comments via his website at www.toddvogts.com.