Say “Yes”

By Aidan Manley

Jeff Fellenzer, one of the professors in the Annenberg School of Communication who specializes in Sports Media studies, often brings in guest speakers to tell students about their own first-hand experience in the industry. While all these individuals provide insightful commentary regarding the relationship between sports and business, one speaker in particular offered a simple piece of life advice that has stuck with me ever since.

Ilan Ben-Hanan works at ESPN in Los Angeles as the Vice President of Programming and Scheduling. He plays a significant role in deciding which games ESPN will televise, what time the games take place, and many of the other elements that go into creating an efficient broadcast. But after he had described his experience of working at his dream job, he left the students with one final suggestion.

Say “yes.”

Say yes to going out with friends. Say yes to new experiences. Say yes to trying new things. Don’t look back on your time in life and regret what you could have done. Don’t make excuses for yourself. Say yes.

While such advice may seem simplistic, it can actually be quite difficult in practice. When I was talking with my ALI language partner, I asked her if she had the opportunity to go around and see much of Los Angeles. Although she had been at USC for about a year, she said that her heavy coursework prevented her from being able to go out much, causing her to often forfeit a day-out in favor of a day-in to study.

Her story is not new. In fact, it is familiar to all of us. We can get caught in our work and prioritize our academics over everything else. As we are goal-oriented beings, we can set our sights on something so intently that we close ourselves off to all the amazing opportunities life presents us. While our motivations may propel us forward to greatness, we must temper such a compelling drive with balance, so that we may appreciate that all the world has to offer outside of our occupations.

While work and academics may take up a considerable amount of time, there are other less productive habits we perform that deprive us of new experiences. Phones and social media can captivate someone’s attention entirely, with users being able to sink hours on end into dull, disengaging, material. For others, a night in watching Netflix or playing video games may seem more appealing than a visit to an unexplored part of town. It goes without saying that technology has provided many benefits to our lives, but it has also played a part in fostering a great degree of idleness in society.

Instead of saying “no” to a different experience, challenge yourself. Be more adventurous. Take a break from studying if you have to. Eliminate the unnecessary distractions. You won’t remember all the times you decided to stay back and do the same familiar routine activities. Why not create memories that will last, that you can look back fondly on? College is a time where all of us are exposed to a wealth of opportunities to meet new people, travel, and experiment with new ideas and activities. We should all take full-advantage of such an invaluable moment in our lives.

So try your best, and say yes a little more often.

Featured image by Jen Theodore on Unsplash