The Student Newspaper of Lakeside School

TATLER

The Student Newspaper of Lakeside School

TATLER

The Student Newspaper of Lakeside School

TATLER

This is Your Sign to Do Something New

I stand silently on the “layup line” for basketball tryouts, watching athlete after athlete gracefully make their shot. When it’s my turn, I awkwardly dribble over to the hoop, stop, and throw the ball up with high hopes. It bounces off the bottom corner of the backboard and topples to the ground, no perfect swish in sight.

Last year, I decided to join the basketball team — basketball being a sport in which I had, at best, minimal experience — in order to improve my dance stamina and exercise more. Standing at barely five feet, I had low expectations of my abilities in a sport that was generally played by athletes over a foot taller than me. I wish I could say that I surpassed these expectations, but the truth is, I didn’t. I was among the worst on the team, consistently benched for at least three of the four quarters of each game. Despite being objectively bad at basketball, I don’t regret joining at all.

Trying a new activity is a forcing function to let go of perfectionist worry in favor of learning and/or having fun.

Many students at Lakeside, myself included, fall into the trap of perfectionism, constantly needing to be the best at everything we do. It’s common knowledge that perfectionism, scientifically correlated with anxiety and depression, is a detriment to mental health. Trying a new activity, one that will invariably be challenging at first, is a forcing function to let go of perfectionist worry in favor of learning and having fun. In fact, a majority of Tatler poll respondents commented that they had a great time participating in a new extracurricular in some way or another — whether it was the community they found or the thrill of the activity itself.

When we’re stuck in activities we excel at, we become especially vulnerable to overconfidence and arrogance. On the other hand, doing a new activity – that will likely result in failure or struggle of some kind – ensures a humble mindset.

When we’re stuck in activities we excel at, we become especially vulnerable to overconfidence and arrogance. On the other hand, doing a new activity that will likely result in failure or struggle of some kind, ensures a humble mindset. This humility is what joining basketball provided me with. Before basketball, I saw myself through rose-tinted glasses. My primary extracurriculars were ones that I had years of practice in, so I thought highly of all of my skills. But I’ve since changed my thinking. I now affirm that I have both strengths AND weaknesses just like everyone else, and I’ve grown to accept that as somewhat of a universal truth.

Not only am I more humble as a result of basketball, but trying a new activity gave me a stronger sense of empathy as well. By living the experience of being among the worst in a group, I came as close as possible to putting myself in the shoes of the shy kid at the Model U.N. conference or the struggling student, gaining understanding for peers that are not as experienced as me in areas that I am confident in. This crucial experience of learning from being bad is what perfectionists miss out on.

Ultimately, participating in a new activity is guaranteed to result in improvement of some kind; no one is a beginner forever. Sarah C. ’26, for example, went to state championships as an alternate in her first ever wrestling season. One Tatler poll respondent stated that they “tried out pickleball and became a demon.” I wasn’t as lucky, but I finally learned how to make a layup and can play a game of recreational basketball with my friends. If nothing else, at least I now know the meanings of useful Gen Z basketball slang.

My chances for a future career as a WNBA player may be slim, but freshman year JV basketball was nevertheless a valuable experience for me. So, as the school year begins in earnest, keep in mind that trying something new and challenging isn’t a waste of time. Swallow your fear of failure and perfectionist pressure, and sign up for the Quiz Bowl club or join Lakeside’s swim team. Take this article as your sign to do something new.

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About the Contributor
Contrary to her taste in watching action-packed Mission Impossible style movies, writer Sachi T. ‘26 often enjoys reading feel-good books. She has been dancing for 11 years, mostly in the style of Indian classical, and she's been attending Lakeside since sixth grade. At the school, she plays the viola in orchestra and participates in Model UN events. At home, Sachi adores her golden retriever and watches football and cricket. She also likes to travel with her family, having been to 14 different countries. One fun fact about Sachi is that she has a collection of shot glasses from every place she has visited!

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