Sweat poured down from my petite body frame in the 105 degree weather atop the decayed, black shingled roof in West Virginia. I still remember the feeling of the scorching tar that was adhered to my arms from using it after it had boiled in the sun for hours.
Coming back to our sleeping quarters, my work group convinced me that covering my arms in peanut butter would remove the tar that had been stuck on my arms from working on the roof while building houses. It had been stuck for days, even after scrubbing them raw with soap and water. So I listened to them, and in doing so, learned a very important lesson in my life.
Never believe someone when they tell you peanut butter removes tar because it is a complete and total myth.
A week earlier, I stood in front of the sign-up sheet for the Appalachian Service Project mission trip that was hanging in front of me, just waiting for my name to be inscribed on the black line. Having no indication as to what I was getting myself into, or even the 40 other people I was going with, I proceeded to sign myself up, go to Home Depot to buy the necessary tools — including a hammer that I would end up breaking in half — and then embark on a van full of unfamiliar faces.
I have always been that timid girly girl in my family. No one, including myself, would ever think that someday I would be down in the dirt building homes and sleeping on concrete floors. The day I found the clipboard, I saw the ASP mission trip and most importantly, a challenge. I wanted to be forced outside of my comfort zone and experience something new, all while becoming a small part in something much superior.
This mission was something new to me. It was new to me regarding the amount of physical and mental strength it took to complete the 10 days. It was new to me to step out of the comforts of my own world and experience how others live, which, in turn, made me appreciate the opportunities I have been given. I met people and made relationships that would have never been possible if I didn’t try something — you guessed it — new.
After transferring and being at Lehigh for a full year now, I have finally been able to find my niche, which wouldn’t have happened if I didn’t step outside my comfort zone and tried something new.
Forty-one percent of Lehigh’s student body is in Greek life, according to Lehigh’s Fraternity and Sorority Statistics and Trend Analysis. That is 1,992 students out of 4,853 total undergraduates. I am not saying anything against being in Greek life — you found your niche and that’s great. However, if you are like me, you are with the other 59 percent of students not in Greek life. When you are not in a fraternity or sorority, sometimes it can be hard to find where you fit in at Lehigh.
In the beginning of the school year, I had attended a meeting for one of Lehigh’s many on-campus clubs. It was a group of about 30 students and after having some time to talk to each one of them, I found a reoccurring theme – most of the people there were trying to do the same thing I was. They were trying to find their niche.
There was a range of students — freshman, and even some seniors — who were determined to make the most of their college experience and find their place at Lehigh before graduation.
With my experience on the ASP mission trip, I spontaneously signed up for something that I knew was going to throw me as far out of my comfort zone as I could go. But in doing so, I was able to experience things I never would have been able to otherwise and also would not have met some amazing people and build lifelong relationships.
Just like my experience on the ASP mission trip, I once again pushed myself past my comfort zone at Lehigh and tried something new. In doing so, I met some great people and have finally found my niche here.
If you still feel as though you haven’t found your place at Lehigh, it’s probably time to challenge yourself to push past your comfort zone and get involved with something you may not have thought about doing before. You never know the people you will meet or the opportunities that you could be presented with.
College is about growing, shaping and challenging yourself, but it is also a time to experience new and different things all while making memories. So start making them.