Opinion: Try something new

Ever found yourself listlessly surfing social media after class wondering what to do for the rest of the evening?

Even though it’s not bad to waste a night or two in the semester binging Netflix or your chosen streaming platform, there are definitely better things to do with your time than binge seasons of your chosen distraction when you have free time. 

The thing about many activities we participate in when we aren’t busy with classes, student organizations or work is that they often just waste time without adding anything to our lives. Knowing the plot of “Game of Thrones” is not likely to add anything to your life after you graduate. Spending that time on learning how to do something new, though, can open a whole new world of possibility and an opportunity to improve yourself. 

According to positive psychology expert Vanessa King for an article in UK magazine Psychologies, learning something new is “a core need for psychological wellbeing. Learning can help us build confidence and a sense of self-efficacy.” 

Learning shouldn’t just be a dull slog through textbooks. Even though it can feel like that in some classes, it’s important to remember that learning can be a really positive experience. One of the best ways that we can convince ourselves of that is by spending some time learning something new that we are really interested in, but that doesn’t add stress other classes often do.

Spending time learning new skills that we choose can help us find confidence and a sense of accomplishment that would not be possible if we didn’t try something new. The Capstone Program recognizes this with their personal challenge requirement, which has students submit a way they have tried something new or challenged themselves each semester. 

We are on a campus full of creativity and diversity. There are 34,795 students on campus; each have varied talents and abilities. While you are at college, I would encourage you to try to learn something new outside of your regular classes. 

One opportunity to learn above and beyond your degree program is to take one of our university’s less stressful classes. For example, there are many one credit hour physical activity courses that cover a range of sports and dancing styles. Whether you’re interested in women’s self-defense (PEDU 101), flying disc sports (PEDU 134) or even basic keelboat sailing (PEDU 150), USC is likely to have a physical education course that interests you. 

There are also tons of beginner friendly student organizations that would love to share their passions with you. According to Garnet Gate, the Carolina Debate Society, the Flying Gamecock Skydiving Club and many other student organizations are looking to share their passions with students that are new to the activity. Whether you’re interested in learning how to keep bees or learning and participating in club gymnastics, various student organizations on campus are willing to teach students their skills. This comes with the added bonus of getting you connected to other people with the same interests. 

There is also always the opportunity to learn something on your own, whether its learning to play an instrument such as the ukulele (which is the thing I’ve been working on learning this and last year), learning how to crochet or something else of the like. Especially with resources such as YouTube tutorials, it’s easier than ever to be able to start learning something new. And even if you don’t like what you’ve chosen, you have learned more about yourself. 

So let’s take this opportunity while we are in college to learn a new skill outside of our normal set. We might learn or experience something that can stay with us for the rest of our lives and even make some friends while we are at it. Our years here are an incredible privilege, and we should take advantage of them in every way we can inside and outside of our degree programs.

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