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The Power of Asking, “Why Not?”

Colleen McBride (Junior)

Four years ago, I was a junior in high school. I barely had a clue of what I wanted to pursue in college, nor did I fully know who I was as an individual. In retrospect, I was young; not necessarily in the sense of age, but in the sense of self-actualization. I think back to this time, and I smile. I smile because if someone were to have told me where I’d be today, with the positions I currently hold in different organizations or the opportunities I have at hand, I would honestly not know how to respond. But this is the beautiful light of college, the core of what a university like Penn State stands for: growth and opportunity.

We are given opportunities each and every day. Some can be small, such as the opportunity to reconnect with an old friend, eat a healthy lunch, prepare for a class, or get a good night’s rest. With these small opportunities come the big guys, such as the chance to strengthen relationships, connect with ourselves, connect with nature, push ourselves, learn from others, inspire others, and embrace every single ounce of our own, unique personalities.

We are given opportunities each and every day…but do we take advantage of them?

When I was growing up, my dad would always be the one to ask someone any question that needed to be asked without hesitation, no matter if he knew that person or not. This person could be a waitress, store employee, or someone on the phone. As a little girl, I would sometimes get embarrassed by this. I’d say something like, “Dad, you don’t have to say something.” His reply? “Why not? What’s the worst that could happen?”

When I was young, I admired my dad for being so bold and confident in himself. Initially, I saw him as someone who wasn’t afraid to approach and talk to others. As I grew older, though, my perspective on this changed: my dad wasn’t afraid to take chances. He wasn’t afraid to take advantage of any opportunity that was in front of him. He just did it, and it was as simple as that.

From this, I learned at a very young age to grab anything in front of me and run with it. I began to understand that there is absolutely no time to waste in this world. If you see something, reach for it no matter how far away it is in the distance or how blurry it is up-close. Year after year, this mindset was rooted in my approach to opportunity and slowly built the foundation on which I stand today.

During college, opportunity can be a scary thing. It can be easy to doubt our abilities and shy away from what’s ahead. Sometimes, we think forward…but look backwards.

If there is anything I have learned from growing up with opportunity, it is this: first, be thankful and humble. Organizations like Empower Orphans have opened my eyes to a world where not everyone is as lucky as others to have a future that is even somewhat bright. It would be foolish to waste the opportunities we are given, because those opportunities could very well open doors of opportunity for others. Second, there is a very important question we should ask every time we are given any sort of opportunity: “Why not?”

Why not? This question has the immense power to accelerate any motivation needed to chase an opportunity. It’s the catalyst that can carry you through a stage of uncertainty. It’s the rush of confidence needed to push through doubt. It’s the reminder of your worth and ability. It’s the voice to your heart, the voice to your drive, the voice to your fearless soul just waiting to make and leave a mark on this world. And above all, it’s the source of power that allows you to think and look forward.

Throughout the past four years, I have made a pact with myself, and that has been to take advantage of every opportunity Penn State has to offer. Still ahead of me is a very white canvas that is just waiting to be painted with meaningful experiences. The future is scary, there’s no doubt about it, but if I just look forward and believe in my worth…if we all look forward and believe in our worth…we can truly be the ripples that start a wave of change in this world.

After all, why not?

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