The gym was full of people; athletes warming up for their matches and talking strategy, referees inspecting the courts for the first round of games, and audience members taking their places along the walls. My teammates and I were huddled together, stretching. I was trying to get myself in the zone and ready to go. Our referees indicated it was time to start and we took our places. My heart was pumping and adrenaline was rushing. I was so ready to start off the intramural volleyball season with a win.

Okay, so in reality, stakes probably weren’t as high as I hyped them up to be. My team is in the lowest intramural bracket, due to the fact that only two of us actually play volleyball. I’m not one of those people. My roommate asked me if I wanted to join the team at the beginning of the semester. Originally, I was not going to play. “It’ll be fun,” she said. “It’s always good to try something new,” she said. I finally took her up on her offer, but didn’t think much of it. I honestly didn’t believe I was going to stay committed since I really don’t like doing things I’m not good at. However, game day approached and I was still on the roster. I got a bit nervous; I had no idea how to play volleyball! I just hoped that I wasn’t going to be more harmful than helpful. I decided the best course of action was to apologize to my teammates in advance.

So there I was, making a complete fool of myself on the court. I would swing at the ball, but miss or hit it backwards. I kept running into the net or out of bounds. Hardly any of my serves made it over. I felt super embarrassed.

On the other hand, I was having an awesome time.  We were all making mistakes and that was okay. We took this as an opportunity to crack jokes and laugh at ourselves, but were still kind and encouraging towards each other. It didn’t matter that we only had the four of six players usually needed. It didn’t matter that we weren’t varsity volleyball players. What was important was that we were having fun.

Throughout the course of the game, I started to get the hang of things. I could hit the ball and with some accuracy. I was able to get it over the net or set it up for my other teammates. I was getting really into the game and became more and more confident in myself.

It was match point. Sweat was running down my forehead. My knees were bent and I was on my toes, ready for the opponent’s serve. This is mine. I’ve got this. The ball came over and my teammate hit it back immediately. The other side passed the ball twice and then tried to spike it over, but I was right there. I jumped up and tipped the ball over the heads of their front line. It hit the floor and the ref blew his whistle. The game was over and we were victorious. What a way to end the day.

I grew a little that night. I learned that volleyball is much more fun than I thought, but I also realized that doing something you haven’t done before isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s okay not to be good at something, as long as you can still enjoy the activity. College gives us the opportunity to explore, to step outside our comfort zone and try new things. We can meet new people and make new friendships. We can delve deeper into things we are passionate about, whether that be through classes or clubs. We can also look further into things we find interesting and possibly find a new passion. By doing so, not only are we discovering new things we like (or dislike), we are discovering things about ourselves; we are growing as people. So go ahead and join that intramural team or try for that sorority or fraternity. Take that class outside your major, because you never know what may inspire your little epiphany.

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sgeorger@udel.edu