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  • Briana Wasil

The opportunity of a lifetime begins with a risk

By: Briana Wasil, Features Contributor

Last Saturday was the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention’s annual “Out of the Darkness Walk” to support and raise awareness for suicide prevention efforts. The walk took place alongside Buffalo’s Canalside and was approximately two miles in total. People gathered wearing shirts to honor those whose lives were lost, contributed by wearing sports gear as a united team and joined together for the singular purpose of recognizing the strength within a community.

Witnessing the event highlighted the importance of being open to meeting and connecting with new people. A person can never know what someone is going through without asking, and this is something that we often forget. Every day, it seems as though we are coming into contact with people from a diverse range of backgrounds. It is through these interactions that we find the ability to create bonds that will last a lifetime. While these bonds hold vital meanings for each of us, we shouldn’t forget that, in this world, we are all just trying to fit in. Whether it’s coming in as a new freshman to an unknown atmosphere, city, state or country, or wanting to have a do-over and make up for lost years, all we want is to have quality experiences surrounded by people we love and trust. But this proves to be hard for some people.

Depending on their past experiences, those suffering in silence may want to get to know someone but be afraid of showing vulnerability for fear that they will be hurt again. Or they may want to engage in conversations but are unsure of how to start one and have a constant voice nagging in the back of their mind: this could be a voice that causes them to overthink and tells them all the things that could go wrong instead of everything that could go right. We fear rejection so much that, for many of us, we make the decision of shutting people out before they have the chance to show us how much support they could bring — the support of being there, through friendship or something more. But if we let these fears constantly override us, we will never experience the chance of developing relationships.

Which is worse, experiencing the pain that you might encounter from opening up, or knowing forever that you’ve missed out on a valuable experience in life? Only one of these we know we can recover from, because even if the intensity of it was there, we’re still here, and that is always something to be proud of.

The next time you encounter someone who seems quiet or standoffish, just remember that deep down all of us want a chance to have our own community, a place where we can feel free to be ourselves and where there is an understanding that our value in a relationship goes both ways. Whether it’s from the most introverted to extroverted person, the newbie to experienced teammate, freshman to senior: take care of each other. Sit down by someone who is alone; say “Hi” to people you’ve never met as you pass by; take a risk.

What’s the worst that could happen? Our generation is already shaping history — why not start here? After all, you never know what’s going on inside someone’s head… so go find out.

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