Raise Your Hand, Will You?

Having a question in class is terrifying. The professor says something that you don’t understand, or that you missed for a legitimate reason, like checking your Instagram. Then you’re stuck in an awful situation. If you don’t ask, you risk missing out on what could be imperative information for the next test. Naturally, one would think that this is enough to motivate asking the question in mind. But we’re afraid of asking these questions because it might look “dumb,” which is silly. We pay approximately 60 grand a year for an education at a top tier University. We go to Boston College in order to learn. Why do so many of us frequently refrain from asking questions? Apparently the self-imposed fear proves too much of a mental obstacle for us.

Although observed often in an in-class setting, the fear of putting ourselves out there doesn’t stop in the classroom. It’s all around us. It permeates our lives. This fear promotes the development of applications like Tinder, which save us the trouble of actually approaching someone we are interested in and striking up a conversation. Bumble takes it a step further and saves guys from the horror of initiating the conversation, a process which requires touching the screen of a phone three times. God forbid you have to be the first one to say “hi”. Websites like GrubHub or Foodler, while more convenient than ordering over the phone, also mitigate the little human interaction involved in placing an order. It’s baffling how willing we are to reach out to each other through technology, providing comfort against the aforementioned fear.

The fear that comes with the thought of putting yourself out there is pretty common—it’s natural for us. While this might be the case, we can’t let it have such a large impact on how we live our lives. If we give this fear too much power over us, it hinders our lives. Being in college, we will likely be released into the workforce within the next few years. Employers will look through our resumes, read our transcripts, and decide which ones of us to offer jobs. If we are afraid to put ourselves out there, this restricts our success. People don’t want to hire graduates who perform mechanical tasks. Employers want someone who isn’t afraid to think in different ways. If we let our fear of the unknown take control, we won’t have the confidence to try something new. And even if we do take a risk and go out on a limb, failure isn’t as awful as we are led to believe through our schooling. The portable pacemaker was created because someone accidentally plugged a resistor of the wrong size into a circuit. The microwave was first thought of because a chocolate bar melted in a scientist’s pocket when exposed to the active radar he was working on. The weak adhesive sticky notes were developed by a guy trying and failing to create an incredibly strong adhesive. As Isaac Asimov, renowned author and biochemistry professor, said “The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not ‘Eureka!’ but ‘That’s funny…’.”

Although the idea of a prospective job is in the distant future for some of us, this fear affects our lives at BC. There are a multitude of different clubs and ways to get involved on campus. Finding what you’re passionate about, and finding groups that you mesh with is highly emphasized in the college experience. Often times ignoring the fear and just going for it is the only way we can form our own opinions about these clubs. But this is difficult. It’s far easier to stay in our comfort zones. It’s easier to settle into friendships with those who share the same unique qualities of enjoying going out on weekends and the lifestyle of working hard and playing hard. It’s less intimidating to pass on the meetings these clubs have. Yet if we choose to do this, how do we know if we will ever find the club that truly interests us? If we wish to make the most out of our undergraduate experience, if we want to set ourselves up for the best job possible, we can’t succumb to the fear of going outside of our comfort zones. We have to consciously acknowledge that although it is scary, we can’t allow the fear to make decisions for us. We have to understand that a life spent without risk, and without challenging ourselves, is not a fulfilling one. And we have to ask questions in class.

Featured Image by Emily Fahey / Heights Photo