Ever since I came to Penn State (a mere year and a half ago), I’ve come to be a bit of an adventurer. I moved across the country for college just because I wanted a change of environment. For my 19th birthday, I went skydiving. I’ve given my phone number to an attractive Chris Hemsworth look-a-like on a flight home from Pittsburgh. I’m saving up for a volunteer trip to Taiwan. I desperately want to take acrobat lessons. In November, I wandered New York City by myself for the first time.
My typical mentality can be summed up with the question “why not?” Generally speaking, there’s nothing that I’m afraid of doing. Or so I thought.
Recently, the makers behind PSNtv’s PSU Matchmaker hosted a speed dating event in Willard, and I decided to try to give it a shot. My initial goal wasn’t to find my “true love” because speed dating is something I would never consider doing before this. Typically, I’m an outgoing person, so it seemed like no big deal. I’m the queen of impulsive actions and adrenaline fixes – I could swallow my pride and try out speed dating. If anything, it’s a fun story to tell people.
I decided to drag along my best friend and fellow Valley writer Sabrina Evans, because let’s be real – I wasn’t doing this alone. All week, we texted back and forth about how scared we were, but ultimately we bit the bullet and trudged over to Willard on a bitterly cold Thursday night. But things didn’t work out the way we anticipated.
As soon as I saw the conspicuous “Speed Dating” sign on the classroom door, I hightailed it out of there. No exaggeration, I freaked out. My hands started shaking, my breathes became short and shallow and I broke out in a cold sweat. I started spewing out profanities and apologies and ill-timed jokes about how much of a coward I was. Sabrina was smart enough to get it on video. (Maybe one day it will make it to Facebook.) After about 10 minutes of my proper meltdown, we decided to cut our losses and hit Panera instead.
As we left the building and I recovered from what ultimately can be considered a panic attack, a million thoughts were going through my head. I’ve gone skydiving for Pete’s sake, and I can’t even go speed dating? I felt like a failure – how was I supposed to write an article about this? No one gets it, it’s so easy to swipe right on Tinder or OkCupid, but doing it in real life is a completely different story. But then I realized that isn’t what really mattered.
Just the fact that I even made it to the event is saying something. Taking chances is one of the scariest and most difficult things to do, but in a way it’s very liberating. There’s an old saying that goes “don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it” and there has never been a truer phrase.
Yes, there is risk involved. Yes, it could end horribly. And yes, it is scary. But at the same time, it opens up the chance for something wonderful to happen. Yes, you had a great time. Yes, you made a new friend. Yes, you got an insane thrill. The pros outweigh the cons, and you learn a little bit more about yourself along the way. There is no harm in trying.
I leave you with this: do something that scares you. Even if you don’t end up going through with it, taking those first steps outside your comfort zone can make all the difference. You never know what could happen.
Photo by Natalie Runnerstrom