Editor’s Column: Risky Business

Sara Steinfeld


When we take a good look at it, we realize that college is just one big social experiment. Ideally, we would come here first and foremost for the pursuit of higher education, yet we spend most of our time dealing with the social aspects of our four years here at Colgate. Let’s be candid – most of us worry about who is hooking up with whom and where we’ll be spending our Saturday nights more than we worry about that paper that’s due on Friday. While I wish this weren’t the case, and while we’d all be graduating summa cum laude if it weren’t, it’s about time that we accept this reality.

A big part of the college experience is learning how to express ourselves and coming to terms with who we are. Some of us never seem to have a problem with self-acceptance, while the rest of us spend our time ensuring that we shut ourselves off from anything that could cause pain or distraction.

For those of you who can say what you mean and mean what you say, I applaud you; we all aspire to be like you one day.

However, for the rest of you who seem to be lacking in the conveying-what-you-re­ally-mean department (and at the risk of sounding like the hypocritical, clichéd how-to columnist), I give these quick pieces of advice:

1. Take a risk – I’ve done it. Sometimes it pays off and you’ll be wondering why you never took that leap of faith sooner. However, more often than not, you’ll end up wonder­ing why you ever took a chance to begin with. As someone who’s had both results occur, I can recognize that there are important benefits to each. The most obviousis that if you get the result you want, you’ll only be surprised as to why you held back for so long. If your gutsy move backfires, on the other hand, your initial reaction may be disappointment and irrational anger, but the rejection allows you to move on and take charge of much more important things.

2. Take a step back – Was your leap really worth the risk? While I would never suggest regretting your choices, sometimes looking back on things helps you to understand that what you thought you wanted simply made no sense. Success leads to an inflated ego, and failure leads to potentially negative introspection. Either way, we need to understand whether or not we are doing what’s best for ourselves. Sometimes it’s at our lowest points when we can see what we really need in our lives and what is expendable.

3. Keep chuggin’ on – No, I don’t mean chug Keystone. Seriously, don’t, that’s really gross and that doesn’t solve any problems. What I really mean to say is don’t let one hit to your self-esteem affect how you behave for any length of time. Trust me, a sophomore girl like me is the first to understand the emotional stress of rejection and the havoc it wreaks on our minds and bodies, but if you allow your moment of what seems like failure to com­pletely overrun your life, then you’re only letting yourself down. Forgive me for sounding like a complete mommy, but there are times when you have to be your own best friend and pull yourself up by the bootstraps. Whatever moment of frustration you encounter that seems to be too overwhelming to surpass, give yourself time; it’s really never as bad as you think it is.

So, there it is. The typical list of everything your parents ever told you in preparation for social life in college.

We look at this list and say that we’ll never need to apply these simple rules because we’d never let an emotion grow so much as to completely overtake our logical mindsets. And then the unthinkable happens: we feel something. It’s that thing that we need a solid answer to before we can genuinely move forward with our lives. It’s at the moment that we announce this something that these rules come into effect, and as overplayed as they sound, they work wonders.

So, understanding that it’s at your own risk, take that leap of faith. Even if you don’t get the desired result, at least you’ll have taken a chance in the first place.

Contact Sara Steinfeld at [email protected]