If I could give only one piece of advice to my freshman self, it would be “Don’t hold yourself back.” I was recently reminded of how important this is by a New York Times article that explained Harvard Business School’s recent attempts to make its female students more successful inside and outside of the classroom. What was holding the students back? They were not being assertive, were not making themselves heard, and were not pursuing what they really wanted. In short, these students lacked the confidence needed to be successful.
This is a lesson that everyone should apply to their lives and that is especially important for us young people to remember as we prepare ourselves for the wide world. As we grow up, we are experimenting with how to get what we want, and high school is a safe place to do that. But sometimes we make mistakes, and the choices we make don’t actually help us to achieve our goals and desires. Holding yourself back may be something simple like not being assertive enough, or thinking you can’t try something new because you won’t be good at it. It may be something larger like declining exciting performance or leadership opportunities because of a feeling that you don’t deserve it, or committing to something and then backing out at the last minute. We all have missed opportunities in the past by not taking an initiative, including me.
That is why I am dedicating my next year to exploring my opportunities. I’m going to take risks I didn’t take before. After all, there isn’t really anything to lose. It may feel like taking a leap of faith at times, but I think it will bring me long term success. Whether you’re just starting high school or whether you are looking ahead to college, I encourage you join me on this adventure in being happier and realizing our potential.