What I learned my freshman year was that it’s very easy to not get involved on campus. You see, campus organizations want you, but they don’t force you to join. In high school, everything you did was forced. Attendance was forced, lunch times were forced, bathroom passes were forced and sometimes even extracurriculars were forced. What many of us realize when we get to college is that everything is truly optional. No one is sitting over your bed telling you to get ready before you miss the bus, or making sure you have money to buy cafeteria food. Everything is on you.
When I arrived at Christopher Newport in fall 2014, I noticed there was a plethora of student activities I was dying to get involved with. Campus Activities Board, Student Diversity and Equality Council, Greek Life, Rowing Club, Nintendo Club – there were so many options! I left the club fair with a ridiculous number of flyers, and was beyond excited to start getting involved. Then Monday came, and my first set of classes began. I realized that education at Christopher Newport was no joke like high school had been, and my time would have to be managed very carefully. I also really wanted to be friends with everyone in my hall (as most freshmen do), and skipped out on a lot of interest meetings in order to spend time with my friends who lived so close to me.
I didn’t go to that Improv Club meeting I’d been waiting for all week because my friends and I wanted to go to the beach. I skipped out on that audition for Initiative Student Theater because there was a hall meal at the same time and I didn’t want to eat by myself. I forgot about that CAB Street Team application because no one I knew was applying, too. As a result, I made a lot of great memories with my hall and enjoyed myself thoroughly … until the spring. My hallmates had joined things, my roommate and I weren’t getting along like we used to and people just weren’t as friendly as before. They’d found their cliques and things to get into on campus, but I hadn’t really. Even though I had joined one club, I hadn’t been as involved as I could’ve been because I didn’t want to miss out on the things happening in my hall. It hit me at the end of my spring semester that I regretted not joining things and branching out.
It’s scary making friends, especially ones you don’t see everyday like in high school. With hallmates, you see them all the time and it’s basically like high school all over again. But things change, and you won’t live with them all next year. You also could be missing out on some amazing friendships by not joining clubs, and gaining life experience you couldn’t get in the safety of your residence hall. Now I’m a member of a sorority and a leader in the Christopher Newport community, and I’m so much happier.
I’ve made memories and friendships that never would’ve happened without branching out and following my passions. It was awkward, scary and definitely difficult for an introvert like me to do. But now I’m completely fulfilled. If you’ve thought about applying for membership in that group, or joining that club, do it. Christopher Newport is full of quality organizations that do absolutely amazing things. Get the most out of your experience here, and do it sooner rather than later. I promise you it’ll be the best decision you could make.