Students should take advantage of wide range of clubs, extracurriculars

After-school activities broaden experiences, highlight fresh perspectives, promote potential areas of study
Students should take advantage of wide range of clubs, extracurriculars

Wisps of gold and orange light paint the dark sky as trees sway with the soft breaths of wind. The crisp air so cold it nips at my checks and hands as I race through the desolate and damp streets.

This is my experience biking to farmers’ markets at 6:30 a.m. where I work weekends with Little Sky Bakery at a range of different locations in the area. My shifts involve setting up overflowing displays of baked goods, helping customers pick out tasty delights, gossiping with my coworkers and lots of packing and unpacking boxes.

As a second semester senior, I have put my career as a hardworking and overachieving academic student on hold. My classes and grades no longer matter to me like they used to, now that my schedule is filled with graduation requirements and lessons in subjects I don’t plan to pursue in college.

At first, I was delighted at my sudden expanse of free time, racing home just to lay on my bed and doom scroll, watching the same meaningless videos for hours on end.

Yet, after a couple weeks of this hollow ritual, I became unsatisfied with how I was spending my spare time. So instead, I found new activities, like this job, where I could productively pass the time while simultaneously exploring my academic interests in psychology.

Over the years, I found that the most effective way to expand my interests is to try activities that are outside of my comfort zone. This has allowed me to test my limits, get more comfortable navigating difficult situations and explore the fields I might see myself pursuing for the rest of my life.

For example, I entered journalism because a friend at the time spoke of this being a great environment with warm people and an endlessly fun experience. Before joining The Campanile, I went with her to see what reporting was like at a student protest against Mike Pence at Stanford. 

While following her as she interviewed sources and took photographs I was fascinated by the thoughtful messages from students. I realized journalism could give me the platform to be in these unique situations and hear people’s stories.

I used to hate being in public settings and feared looking like a fool. Yet, as a journalist, I am constantly and purposely placing myself in awkward situations: bending over backwards to schedule interviews or racing around a quiet auditorium with a huge camera lens to capture the perfect photo.

Journalism has not only allowed me to embrace acting like a fool, but it has allowed me to gain confidence in my own voice and writing abilities. Through journalism, I have been able to dive deep into topics such as self-identity or mental health, and hold nuanced discussions with students and professionals. 

Along the way, I discovered my passion for psychology, because I realized the impact of such conversations and how important it is for people’s voices to be heard.

At my current job, although waking up early was an adjustment, I can interact with a diverse range of people. Our customers are generally sweet and I love hearing little snippets of their lives. There is even the occasional German, French or Italian speaking patron, with whom I can practice my foreign languages. 

Beyond practicing what I love, my job has also taught me about my boundaries. After coming home exhausted from long shifts, I learned the grit and energy it takes to do this kind of work, while also respecting myself when a customer acts out of hand and learning to not take things personally.

Another example of stepping out of my comfort zone is rock climbing. I used to have a massive fear of heights; yet I joined this sport on a whim, and have found great joy in it.

Doing pull-ups and exhausting my physical limits has given me confidence in my strength. Also, it has allowed me to spend time with my friends and laugh through the stress of school.

Finally, a month ago, I took a glassblowing lesson at school for students with no experience. I must admit I was scared to death that one of the inexperienced students was going to burn a hole through their hand, however with great danger also came beauty; our final misshapen flower vase we collectively made was strikingly beautiful.

Although I may not hold a blowtorch in the Fiery Arts Center again, it was fun and opened my eyes to exploring similar treasures our school has to offer.

Hobbies and extracurriculars allow students to discover their passions and navigate their future career or major in college. From my experience, each one of these activities has given me insight into who I am, taught my life lessons and allowed me to grow.

These activities have all given me memories I will keep for the rest of my life and have helped guide who I am. I implore every student to explore new things and see what random interests you might discover you enjoy.

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