One thing about university is that you’ll constantly do things you never thought you would. You’re always surprising yourself with what you can learn, what you can achieve and the new things you try and succeed in.
It’s amazing when you study really hard and get that first grade back and it’s better than you’d hoped for because if you try, you will surprise yourself.
It’s not just the academic success that surprises you at university, it’s the challenges you undertake too. When I was in my first year, I made friends with my housemates and a few people on my course, but that was about it for the first few weeks. But then, one of the girls on my course asked me to come with her to her ‘bring a friend day’ for her society.
When I found out it was rugby, I point blank refused. I told her “I am too small and too fragile to be involved in such a rough game, also I hate running and I’d rather be in bed.” She didn’t take no for an answer and after an entire day of her begging me to just come for the one day so she didn’t have to turn up without a friend, I eventually relented and went with every intention of quitting after the first session.
I don’t do sports, I did not have any form of suitable clothes to wear, I had no idea what ‘suitable wear’ was. I asked my friend beforehand and she said a top and shorts. So I turned up wearing board shorts, converse and a strappy top.
This was not exactly what she meant you can imagine, but I had no idea and at least I’d turned up.
I was introduced to the team and the coach, everyone was so friendly, I felt very welcome. We played lots of fun skill training games and it didn’t really feel like rugby or even exercise, so I decided to tag along for a little to see what it was like.
It went on for a month or so, with me going to training and pretending that I was just spending time with my new friends and having fun, ignoring the fact I was now part of the rugby team.
Then came the fateful day I had to play my first match. I was terrified, but with lots of encouragement from my coach and teammates, I managed to find the courage to step onto the pitch and play. The only parts I can remember of that whirlwind game was when I had the ball sat on the floor and gave it to the opposition just because I didn’t want to be tackled because I was too scared.
The girls were so good about it and I carried on playing, despite the fact I was angry at myself for giving the ball away.
There came the point where I was the only one left to stop the opposition from scoring and I knew if I didn’t make the tackle I wouldn’t forgive myself for being such a wimp.
So I did it, I went in and tried to tackle her, all I essentially did was put myself in the way and trip her up, but it was enough. Everyone was so proud of me and I felt amazing. I’ve always known I love to challenge myself and it was at that moment I knew rugby was going to be my new personal challenge.
I kept at it and went to every training session and every match I could for the entirety of my time at university. I improved beyond what I ever thought I could; I went from being a feeble tiny person who screamed trying to catch a ball to a strong confident person who takes on anything that comes at her.
Since that moment in first year I have had so many amazing opportunities from taking that risk and putting myself out there.
I’ve played in two stadiums, played for three teams, made friends all over the country and all over the world; I really surprised myself as I’ve done so much more than I thought I was capable of.
The moral to my story is you get the most out of life by trying new things and putting yourself out there, be that going to university, conquering a fear, or doing something you’d just never pictured yourself doing (like rugby). Just embrace life and have fun, because at the end of the day no one gets remembered for the things they didn’t do.