“Hey Margaret, is it Possible for you to Maybe Sign your Book?”: Trying New Things

We all have our comfort zones- whether it is the types of courses we pick, the places we eat, the exercises we do, and so forth. However, at times they can be quite restraining and for me at least, when I am inevitably forced out of my zone, it induces unneeded anxiety. Why do I get so anxious, you may ask? Well, because like most folks, I get worried about failing right from the beginning. When your only chance at experiencing something new is to actually do it, the inability to prepare beforehand is quite frustrating. I am like a kid learning to ride a bike- I am be able to balance back, but I also could fall flat on my face. So this week, I decided to try something new, albeit something that I could somewhat prepare for. On the weekend, I hosted the History Students’ Association’s first annual conference on the Second World War. To add on to the anxiety excitement, one of my favourite historians, Dr. Margaret MacMillan, agreed to be our keynote speaker. Given that this was the very first conference of its kind for the HSA, I knew that we had to make it great. If it went poorly, the next conference executive could have a hard time securing funding. The whole existence of this conference being an annual one rested on the current executive team. Talk about pressure, eh? So we all worked from September- we wrote countless funding applications, invitation letters, and emails (and more emails). We designed a poster and a new website. We even decided to create a special issue of The Future of History to garner student participation. Yet after all of this preparation, I was still nervous. “What if no one comes?” I asked myself over and over again as the conference date loomed increasingly closer. After hearing me rant about all the things that could go possibly wrong, our logistics coordinator calmly pulled me aside and said- “Haley, you’re being ridiculous.” And she was right. But it was nonetheless on my mind pretty much until the end of the conference. Something, anything, could go wrong. But, nothing really did. Aside from me fan-boying Dr. MacMillan when I first saw her (my exact words: “Oh my god, Margaret MacMillan! What a pleasure meeting you---oh thank you for coming---oh I love your books!”) and going slightly overtime for the first panel, everything went super smoothly. Margaret MacMillan was A-mazing of course, and all the panelists were informative, engaging, and constructive.
Margaret, HSA President, and I in the conference room.
Margaret, Misha, and Me. 😀
The conference exec!
The Conference exec!
The History Journal!
The History Journal!
And so my point is- although trying new things may sometimes make you feel nervous, it usually is because you care about what you are doing. For me, all the worrying was just a reflection of me wanting my event to go well and in the end, all the work ended up being so worth it. Now, it’s time for me to hear from you, dear readers! What are the new things that you are trying at U of T? Let me know by tweeting your answers with the hashtag, #TryitUofT Talk to you soon, Haley

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