We all have that thing that we really want to do — whether it's trying out a new club, exploring a new place, or making a new friend. But sometimes it can be overwhelming and, well, scary. I know. I've been there many times.

As I approach the end of my first year in college, I've been unbelievably retrospective. I can't help but think about everything that has happened in my life to get me to where I am today, or how different my life would be if one little thing happened differently. But regardless of whatever existential crisis I happen to fall into, I always find that the greatest things that have happened in my life are all rooted in my conquered fears.

I was afraid to go on a service trip to New Orleans with new JMU students who I didn't know. Now, the tall, freckle-faced, redhaired girl I met on that trip is my best friend and we'll be returning to New Orleans for another round of service next month.

I was afraid to audition for plays at JMU. Now, I'm working on so many exciting projects in the theater.

I was afraid to come to JMU in the first place. Now, it's my favorite place in the world.

There is a lot about myself that I don't know, but I've learned that I'll never truly know myself and all that I am capable of if I surround myself with fear.

If I could give one piece of advice to anyone in this kind of situation, it would be: just do the thing. Because you can. Fear alone can be enough to talk you out of pursuing something that could be so wonderful, but I'm here to tell you to face those fears. Embrace them. Use that energy to fuel whatever amazing journey you're about to go on.

It can be difficult. If I'm being honest, I still get nervous when trying new things. But what I have begun to realize is that people want you to succeed, and no one is going to judge you if you don't get it exactly right on your first try.

I have come face to face with my fair share of failure, rejection, and embarrassment, and I would be lying if I said it didn't hurt when I got that college rejection letter, or when my face went completely red while giving a speech in front of my class, or when I didn't get cast in that musical. But that's OK! Feel the hurt, feel the frustration, feel whatever you need to feel. Just remember that things can only get better from here on out.

Take chances. That's how we learn.

Make mistakes. That's how we grow.

Fail. That's how we get stronger.

So, do the thing, whatever it is. Take that step, no matter how big or small. Maybe jump, cartwheel, run, or spin. Go forward, sideways, or diagonal—just don't go back.