Martha Hrdy

A small action can make a big difference

January 23, 2023

It was the morning of August 30, 2021, and I was terrified.

It was the first day of classes for the fall semester of my junior year, I had arrived late to my very first class and there was only one chair left in the room.

Choosing one’s seat for the semester on the first day of classes is a ritual that I had encountered many times over my four years in college, and until that moment, my practice had always been the same: to sit by myself.

On the very frequent occasion that I didn’t have any good friends in the class, I would immediately find the chair furthest away from civilization and stake my antisocial claim for the semester.

It’s not that I wanted to purposefully and permanently isolate myself or anything. Sitting alone was just so much more familiar and comfortable than surrounding myself with people who were completely unknown.

That usual practice, however, shattered into a million pieces on that fateful day.

Whatever made me tardy, at that moment, felt like a curse. Now, however, I wholeheartedly believe it was a miracle.

My late arrival left me with quite literally only one seat option left. Right in the front, surrounded by people on all sides.

An introvert’s worst nightmare.

While left in this terrifying situation, like a deer in headlights, far out of my comfort zone, something amazing happened.

In that moment, instead of shutting down and becoming antisocial as I did in the past, I somehow became the most outgoing, sociable and friendly person the world had ever seen.

The motivation to survive in this new, uncomfortable environment compelled me to undertake a full 180-degree personality flip. One that, surprisingly, has stuck to this day.

That day, I made good friends with the two people sitting next to me, and I can proudly say that I still talk to seven or eight people from the class semi-regularly, even a full year later.

That experience, that one fleeting moment, single-handedly turned me from someone who feared social interaction into someone who actively sought it out.

It led me to run for and win a senate seat and spot on the executive board in SGA, and even to join the Cynic, the outlet for which I am writing this very piece.

This experience compelled me to reach out to so many new people and learn so many new things that would’ve been completely inaccessible to my old self.

From interning with state legislators, to leading a committee that manages the academic affairs of the entire student body, to even having an interview for a potential job after I graduate with one of the largest media outlets in the world, my life since that moment has never been the same.

The smallest action or mindset shift, no matter how insignificant it may seem, has the potential to truly work wonders in your life that you never previously thought possible.

This semester, when you find yourself in an uncomfortable situation, don’t fear what is before you. Put on a brave face, calm your nerves and put yourself out there.

You never know—it might just change your life.

The Vermont Cynic • Copyright 2024 • FLEX WordPress Theme by SNOLog in