William and Mary: Helping Students to Overcome Their Fears Since 1693

When giving tours, I am always asked to explain why I came to the College (and if you’ve been on my tours, you’ll know I wait until the end of the tour to explain). I’ll spare you the hour and fifteen minute tour and explain in this blog: I enrolled at the College because I felt it was the right fit for me. I felt more at home at William and Mary than any of the other schools I visited. A major factor was the personal attention: 11:1 student to faculty ratio, traditions like opening convocation and the overall sense that I would be valued as an individual and not simply a number. I felt that I would find my niche at William and Mary.

The funny part is I didn’t find a niche per se. There’s not one group of us that simply hangs out. Students at William and Mary value diversity on many levels and the typical student will have friends in many groups. My closest friends are all so different from each other and when people meet some of them, they think it’s funny that we became friends since we are so different. But our differences help to make us grow as individuals.

For example, last Friday was Busch Gardens Day for William and Mary students. I’ve never been the type who likes going to amusement parks. And the thought of me going on a roller coaster would cause anyone I know to laugh. You see, I’m not a big risk taker and my friends and family would describe me as Type A. Therefore, going on a roller coaster and not having control of where I’m going, how fast the ride is going, etc. is not something people who know me would have anticipated. In fact, I did not anticipate going on a roller coaster. Instead I planned to sit out, take pictures of my friends and laugh at how crazy they were.

But I surprised not only my friends but also myself. I wanted to try something new and go outside of my comfort zone. Why? I was with friends who are A) not afraid of roller coasters and are very different from me because they are more laid back and willing to take risks, and B) supportive. They did not pressure me to go on the roller coaster but reassured me that I would not die. My friends sat on either side of me so I wouldn’t be on the edge, and they kept saying funny things that made me laugh as we climbed up to the top of the roller coaster for the initial 210-foot drop. Throughout the ride, they gave me a play-by-play of what was about to happen (I’m pretty sure I closed my eyes for 95% of the ride). When the ride was over, I was in shock. I went on a roller coaster, didn’t die and actually had a good time.

Will I ever go on a roller coaster again? We’ll see. I’m not itching to get back on one but sharing that experience with my wonderful friends was incredible and a memory I will have forever.

So what’s the moral of the story? At William and Mary you have the opportunity to grow as an individual through the plethora of opportunities presented to you. Sometimes you have to take the first step and decide you want to try something new. After that, you have a diverse community of peers to help you achieve your goal. I know it sounds cheesy, but it’s the truth. Thanks to Tera Morris and Elaine Bevington for helping me to let go and take a risk…and for also contributing to the loss of my voice from screaming the entire duration of the roller coaster ride.

Lauren Stephenson
Class of 2013

Categories: Campus Life, Student Blogs, Traditions & Events, Williamsburg

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