My friend and PR professional, Meredith Avakian Hardaway started daring college students this year at Temple University. She teaches a class after her day job as the Communication Director of the Philadelphia Bar Association and has been on her own daring journey of first-time experiences. We’ve actually done a couple of Polar Bear plunges together.
She starts each class asking her students what they did new this week. “How did you dare yourself?”
I went to her class last night.
“I gave blood for the first time,” one young woman told the class.
“How was that?” I asked
“Scary. I don’t like needles. But I have a universal blood type so I feel good about doing it”
The class applauded her.
Another student in the front row raised his hand.
“I bought my first suit this week without my mother. I wasn’t sure what I was doing. I hope it looks okay.”
“I did a polar bear plunge in South Carolina on Spring Break. It was still really FREEZING”, another shared.
A student in the back: ” I dyed my hair burgundy. I was nervous and afraid it wouldn’t look professional but I just wanted to try it.”
It actually looked great on her and seemed to reflect her creative self.
We talked about how we all feel when we try new things, NERVOUS.
That we worry sometimes about what other people will think and that when we try new things we might not be perfect. Still, it’s the only way to grow and move forward and these dares are what make life interesting, memorable. They give us courage to go for some of the big goals in life.
The students expressed fears that are not unlike professionals I talk to in the middle of their careers or when they are in transition.
I could see that after weeks of being together in class and being encouraged to dare themselves, the students really supported each other. And that taking the time to share their dares also opened them up to their professor, Meredith, and the more difficult class work ahead of them that night.
Before I left the class, I dared everyone to come to our upcoming career fair. (I’m the director of Career Services for Temple’s School of Media and Communication) Only one person in the class had ever been to one before. I know that can take some courage but I have a feeling this class will get there. One wrote me this morning, to ask me to help her put her resume together.
I think “daring”, having the courage to try new things on a regular basis is worthy of being taught and encouraged.
When you think about it, that skill to resist your No voice; to say Yes to new challenging experiences that push you outside of your comfort zone, is a skill that touches every facet of your life and career.
If you’re a teacher at any grade level, I hope you’ll try it. I’m pretty certain it’s a lesson, if encouraged on a regular basis, they’ll never forget.
Kudos to my friend Meredith for bringing her daring philosophy into the classroom.