Since tomorrow is February 29, Leap Day, let’s talk about leaping. I know that the saying goes: “look before you leap,” but I don’t always think that’s true. Sure, it’s good to think about things before you rush into them, but at the same time, it can be so exhilarating just to leap, to jump right into the middle of something and work your way out from there. Being a leader often requires leaping—if you’re the first to do something and you plan to guide others in doing it afterward, then you don’t know how it’s going to turn out even if you have some expectations. That can be scary, I know. Some people are planners, scheduling meticulously and weighing the risks and benefits, wanting to know the outcome before the event actually takes place. And that’s totally fine! But sometimes it’s good to leap, too. Here are three ways to make “leaping” easier, and three suggestions for little “leaps”!
How to Leap
1. Leap Together: I have a friend who had always wanted to go skydiving. Impressive, right? I don’t think I’d have the guts to do it. Turns out, neither did she—at least, not by herself. But she found a friend who was also willing-but-nervous, and they both took the (literal!) leap. But you don’t have to be jumping out of an airplane to take a leap with a friend. Maybe there’s a club you want to start at your school, but you’re worried about running it alone: find a co-president!
2. Take a Little Leap: Look, you don’t have to jump right into something over the top. I’m not saying you should decide to pack a bag and hitchhike across the country tomorrow, or that you should sign up run for Student Government President if you don’t even know what your SGA does. But there are plenty of little leaps you can take: join a club that sounds interesting even if you don’t know much about it. Take a day trip somewhere you’ve never been. Set a goal to do something you’ve never done before.
3. Plan your Leaps: Yeah, this one sounds like cheating when I just said that you don’t always have to look before you leap, but the leap can be the idea itself, rather than the action or event. Set yourself a goal to try something new, even if you don’t know yet what that “something new” is! Maybe you’ll know what you want to try without any further planning, or maybe you’ll do some research and decide that way. Whether it’s cooking a new recipe, volunteering with a new organization, or doing something totally wild like my skydiving friend, stepping out of your comfort zone can be a leap itself, even if you figure out all of the details beforehand.
What to Leap
1. When in Rome…: Here in Seville, one of the biggest differences many of my fellow classmates are experiencing is the food. While I’ve tried many different types of fish and vegetables in the past, some people haven’t had as large a variety, and so aren’t used to the squid and the artichokes and the other interesting foods that have shown up on our plates. I really admire the people who don’t make faces when presented with something they have never tried before, who dig in and give it a chance, who order tapas without being quite certain what the Spanish names translate to. Sure, some stuff turns out to be yucky, but it’s worth a taste! Even a little thing like trying a new food can make you a bit more adventurous, and willing to try new things in other parts of your life as well.
2. Without a Map: I’ve decided that one of the best ways to get to know a place is to get lost in it. It’s not the best thing to do when you’re on your way to class and you take a wrong turn, but if you have a couple of hours in a new place (and it’s a safe area, of course), put away your maps and cell phone GPS programs, and just explore! You’ll get a chance to see some things that are off the beaten path, like the gardens I found one day when I turned right instead of left on the way back to my house here in Spain. But it doesn’t have to be in a city you’ve never visited before, or on vacation; even just walking around your hometown without any gameplan for where you’re going can show you something new!
3. Be the Worst: This one is a little bit more difficult, but a lot more rewarding. Do something you’ve always wanted to do but you think you aren’t good at, and promise yourself that if you’re awful at it, you’re going to let yourself enjoy it anyway! This semester, I’m taking a “Regional Folk Dance” class, which in Seville means Flamenco. Now, I haven’t taken a P.E. class since high school, and it’s been even longer than that since I’ve taken a dance class, so I definitely wasn’t expecting to be good at it. And I’m not, really; I have yet to figure out how exactly to do the arm movements at the same time as the leg movements. But even if I’m not the best in the class, it’s a new experience and I’m having a lot of fun.
– Lauren Mateer
LeadHer™ Intern, Campus Calm
Learn more about Lauren here.