University of Notre Dame
University of Notre Dame



When I was littler and my parents wanted me to try a new food, they would get my sisters to start a chant: “You can do it, you can do it, you can do it Lizzie!” Eventually, annoyed enough by the noise, I would try the new food, and, sometimes, I would like it. When I came to Notre Dame as a freshman, I did not even need the chant to try something new. I decided that I wanted to reinvent myself, and the easiest way to do that was to try everything new!

It’s not easy to step out of your comfort zone. When I decided that I wanted to be involved in Student Government, although I had never done that in high school, I was surrounded by class presidents and student leaders of the highest caliber. I was not prepared to go door-to-door campaigning, nor deal with the constant stream of e-mails associated with planning meetings and events, but the more involved I was, the more I realized I liked it. Eventually, the girl who in high school was president of Key Club by default due to lack of opposition was elected Junior Class President, and gave a speech in front of five thousand students and parents at Junior Parents Weekend. I never knew that I had that capacity in me, and I never would have discovered it if I had not taken that step to try something new!

In high school, my after-school activities consisted of sports and Mock Trial. I was not theatric at all – even my roles in Mock Trial were the ones that required minimal suspension of disbelief. When my friend Stephen convinced me to join the comedy improvisation club, I assumed that I would be bad at it, that I would hate it, and that I would never come back after that first meeting. Four years later, the Humor Artists are some of my best friends, and I have performed in front of large crowds in various venues on campus. I am now completely comfortable performing on stage in front of strangers, making up scenes and dialogue on the spot, and reacting to the fact that my scene partner has just turned me into a legless horse. Comedy improvisation taught me to think on my feet, to accept what my peers give me, and to give a hundred percent in every scene, and I would never have developed those skills to the extent that I have if I had not taken that step to try something new!

You don’t have to audition for the lead role in Sweeney Todd, and you definitely do not need to run for Student Body President your freshman year. You don’t even need to go that far out of your comfort zone – just a little bit is enough. Join an inter-hall sport as a total rookie (racquetball, anyone?) and learn a new skill. Sign up for fencing in gym and learn how hard it is to breathe with a helmet on (and what sore quads really feel like). Join a team for Muddy Sunday even if you really don’t like getting muddy – it may be the best Sunday morning you’ve ever had.

Life surprises you when you allow it to. As Pocahontas sings (in perhaps the greatest of all Disney movies), “You’ll learn things you never knew you never knew.” Let yourself go a little crazy in college – after all, this is one of the only times in your life when it is ever acceptable to roll around in the mud with a volleyball, hit your opponent (by accident) in the face with a racquet, LARP on South Quad, sit down in the dining hall next to a stranger, or sign up for a club because they had good candy at the Activities Fair and then actually go to the first meeting. Now, above all else, is your time to grow, your time to flourish, and your time to try everything new!