Put Yourself Out There

By Bilal Adamjee ‘24

I believe there is beauty in putting yourself out there, in trying new things. To be vulnerable is to set yourself up for success. There is a unique power in this, and I increasingly feel that the community and opportunities at Pomona College are conducive for that.

Yes, there are a number of people who know how they want to use their time going into college. There are students with concrete strengths growing up, students who are self-aware enough to know how they want to advance themselves in college. And that’s great because, for the most part, there’s a somewhat clear-cut path for skilled athletes, academics, or aspiring professionals who continually develop themselves in their respective fields to a point where success is inevitable.

However, apart from growing what we consider to be our natural talents and continuing with what we’ve been doing our whole lives, which we all do to some degree, I think it is equally important to try new things when coming into college: try something exciting and outside what you are capable of or comfortable with. Try something that doesn’t seem directly related to your goals. You’d be surprised—what you initially see as exciting and different might be a life-changing experience.

group of students on building stepsThat’s what made coming to Pomona College redefining for me. Coming in, I had a remote interest in business and entrepreneurship, and so I joined our start-ups club on campus, Pomona Ventures, where I’ve been able to network and collaborate with others in ways I couldn’t have imagined. This led me to gain career interests in finance, which made me join our college’s student investment fund, Sagehen Capital Management, where I have been able to learn a great deal of investment and finance knowledge from senior students and other peers.

Now, all this experience is great and super important to what I will try do after college, but I think that an equally important experience was joining the Claremont Rugby Team. I initially joined because it looked fun and I wanted to be part of a team—to be part of a collaborative effort that would keep me both mentally and physically disciplined.

Had I ever played rugby before I joined? No.

Was I sure I’d be good enough and be able to play? No.

After my first season playing, have I done anything worthwhile?

Well, it depends on how you look at it. I haven’t performed decently well yet, and as a team we haven’t played many official games because of COVID-19 complications and issues with rebuilding our team.

5 male rugby playersBut I know, and I feel it, that playing on my rugby team has already brought out parts of me that nothing else has. To be vulnerable, to not know what to do, and to learn from there, step by step. This means putting in the time when I can to learn the game, video by video, pass by pass, and mistake upon mistake, to make myself a better teammate – a better player. There is great power and liberty in that. Nothing can stop a person who has everything to learn. The thrill of the game, the camaraderie, and the passion to play as one are values I haven’t yet taken from a class or a job. I found some of the people I call my closest friends today on that team; playing rugby and spending time with them provides relief from the buzz of everything else that makes up my college experience.

All this to say: my commitments in college were born out of the drive to put myself out there, to try something new. So, if there’s anything you take out of this, remind yourself to step out of your comfort zone. It’s cliché to say until you see how it actually impacts you.

To put it another way: there’s a bunch of ‘scratch pads’ of our life that we’re bringing into college with us, to continue to draw a story that we have already started. But don’t forget to carry with you a blank page or two. I’ve been able to draw some new, exciting stories that are potentially life-changing, as I hope you will be able to do too.