Pollick: Explore new experiences by being spontaneous

Thomas Pollick, Columnist

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Cooking as a college student in many ways resembles college life in general. It’s an experience of trial and error and discovery. It’s an experience of blankly looking around and making the most of what you’re given, even if it’s just a jar of peanut butter and stale cereal that you left at the back of the cabinet.

A few weeks ago, cooking showed me the importance of spontaneity. I was rushing to my noon class, and needed to make myself a quick brunch. I opened the fridge and grabbed what I could find for a sandwich. The results: turkey, ranch dressing, hummus, sharp cheddar cheese and some sliced tomatoes. I was a little unsure as I layered them on some bread. These were ingredients I would never dream of putting together, but in my frenzy to get to class, I decided to take a chance. The result was a new favorite sandwich.

Man, was I proud of myself. Throughout most of my life as a relatively well-behaved and introverted person, I have never been very good at taking chances or being spontaneous. I have spent too many hours planning what I would say to the pizza guy on the phone or crafting perfectly constructed emails to teachers explaining a future absence. Although I’ve certainly become more outgoing over time, I know that I tend to overthink a situation until it becomes ridiculous, instead of just going ahead and pressing the “send” button.

But the sandwich scenario is a perfect example of why I think it’s important to occasionally be spontaneous. Looking back on my life, the decisions I’ve made that I am most proud of are the ones that required faith, when I dove in headfirst, unsure of what to expect, instead of taking the safe route and sticking to what I was used to doing.

For example, spontaneity is the reason I met someone who today I call a close friend. Last year, we were both part of a volunteering opportunity at Evanston Public Library, a program that neither of us had participated in before. We both signed up on a whim. We had a great time, and when walking back to campus, I made the move of asking if she was hungry and wanted to get lunch. We spent an hour talking over deep dish pizza at Giordano’s, and we’ve remained friends since.

Another spontaneous move I’m particularly proud of is my decision to sign up as part of stage crew for the Dolphin Show last year as a freshman. I had never done stage crew for a musical production before. I got the spot by responding to a last-minute email that was sent out from a friend. As a result, I met great people and got to experience firsthand the amount of effort that goes into the largest student-run musical in the country. I’ve also remained good friends with the other members of the crew.

When I look back on these decisions, sometimes I wonder what would have happened if I had been too shy or wasn’t feeling “up to it” that day. What if I had just told myself I was too tired and went about my normal routine? It’s crazy to think about. Of course I’m glad I took the chance.

There are so many opportunities waiting out there every day. Discovering these opportunities is a matter of breaking the barrier of hesitation and going for it. Whether it’s talking to a new person, discovering a new culinary masterpiece or throwing in a last-minute application to be a columnist for The Daily, spontaneity, in the right doses, can open doors to fantastic new experiences.

Thomas Pollick is a Weinberg sophomore. He can be reached at thomaspollick3.2016@u.northwestern.edu. If you want to respond publicly to this column, send a Letter to the Editor to opinion@dailynorthwestern.com.