You have read my story, now it is time to create your own. Let’s figure out what you might be interested in – beyond video games, Facebook, ESPN, WhatsApp, Instagram, and/or Snapchat!
HOW TO GET STARTED?
1. Go with your gut. STOP listening to the chatter. STOP worrying about what “they” (your parents, friends, spin instructor) might think about what you want to do. If it interests YOU then it is okay.
2. Think about your current interests. Do you want to sustain them? Perhaps you are involved with scouting, or art, or music. Do you want to continue with those activities? It is fine if you do, but you need to really WANT to. Don’t stick with it just because it is easy or familiar. If you’ve been on swim team but hate every minute of it, then quit. If you have played the violin for five years and still aren’t very good – and you’ve given it a good effort – then quit. NOW is the time to quit and move on. Cut your losses. DO WHAT YOU LIKE.
3. Warning For Musicians Only: If your passion is music, and you dream of being a music major or attending a conservatory, you need to start researching that now. Many conservatories require competency in more than one instrument as well as proficiency in reading and composing. Do you homework and PRACTICE. I will write more about music in a later post.
4. Make your choice and jump in. You don’t have to become an expert, just give something a try. By “give it a try” I mean stick with it for at least three months. After that, if you aren’t having fun, try something else. No one is keeping track. Of course there are exceptions to every rule. If you choose to take up some super technical sport or difficult instrument, it may well take more than three months to start enjoying it, but you get my point.
WHEN TO GET STARTED?
1. SUMMER is a great time to explore your interests. There are all sorts of camps and workshops and programs geared towards getting teens excited about everything from medical research to writing the next great novel. Summer is also the time when employment opportunities abound, and don’t overlook those chances to volunteer. Colleges aren’t looking for students who take the summer off. Make good use of that time to learn more about yourself.
2. The next best time to try new things is at the beginning of the school year. Create a new you. Join a new club. START a new club. Get involved in a community project at a deep level. Let’s say that your school’s Key Club does one of thosse Rise Against Hunger programs where everyone gathers to package up thousands of meals. If that sort of helping activity is interesting to you, make a point of seeking out the organizers. Ask them how you can get more involved. Find out how to help organize this type of event or sign on with the organization itself. There are countless opportunities to help out on a deeper level in your community.
Maybe theatre is your thing, or dance, or music. Instead of just joining the band or trying out for the play, take a stab at stage managing, or lighting, or sound. Maybe you want to write or direct or choreograph? You will be shocked at how welcoming and encouraging teachers and community members will be when you propose your ideas. Most will jump at the chance to help you. Besides, what’s the worst thing that can happen? That they say no. You will be no worse off than you were when you started! If someone turns you down (and they will), simply thank them for their time and move on. Don’t hold grudges or burn bridges though, because in all likelihood the reason for them turning you down had nothing to do with YOU, and they may be able to help you in the future.
Maybe sports are more your thing, and you are involved at the varsity or club level. First of all, read my blog post on athletics. Then if you are STILL involved at the varsity or club level, find a way to double dip. In other words, since you are already at the pool or gym or wherever, find a way to further your interest or passion in the sport beyond your training. Maybe you could help coach younger kids? If you are interested in pre-med perhaps you could shadow the athletic trainer or help him or her organize his or her space or maintain the weight room? Maybe you could learn more about exercise science or nutrition? If you are interested in training and/or nutrition, try to expand your interests so that they are not totally self centered. Explaining how you got yourself to 14% body fat will not make you jump off the page, but showing how you developed an eating plan that helped the team lose fat and gain muscle mass will get people talking.
These are just two suggestions. Choose one or two things that you’d like to explore (or keep exploring) and go and and DO IT. If you don’t get to sign up at the start of the year, that doesn’t mean you need to sit it out. Most clubs and community organizations welcome new members at any time. That first step is the hardest. Once you try one activity it makes it easier to join the next one. Just take that first step. You’ll be glad you did and it will help you get noticed.