Take a risk - and believe in yourself

If student blogger Orli West has any advice for Jewish students on campus it's that you can only achieve by trying

September 12, 2018 10:15

I am, and always have been, a little bit of a risk taker (well, by my definition anyway!) I got a tattoo as soon as I turned 18, I flew to Australia alone in April for the ultimate blind-date, I moved sixth form to go to a school almost two hours away, only to be met by completely different people and expectations to what I was used to. I am lucky that most of the risks I’ve taken have paid off, and most of them have taught me a huge amount about myself and those around me.

One risk however, taken almost a year to the day of writing this article, has taught me more about myself than most of my other risks. This time a year ago, my Papa brought round a newspaper clipping from the JC, talking about a competition they were holding looking for a new student blogger. To enter, you had to write an example article about your experiences as a Jewish student. For as long as I can remember, I have loved writing, but my faith in myself has never been particularly high when it has come to non-fiction! That said, I allowed myself to be persuaded to at least try and write an article, agonising over (and doubting) each sentence before sending it off to the JC.

Over a month later, having forgotten that I even entered, I got an email to say I had been shortlisted and then a further email a week later to say that I, along with Jamie and Asha, had been made the new student bloggers. Cue very excited phone calls and emails to everyone, swiftly followed by crippling self-doubt that I would even be able to find topics to write about, let alone if people would read them. It was a risk. But one year, countless drafts and 17 published articles later and here we are.

I have loved writing these blogs. They have been stressful, and thought-provoking, and have been the topic of many a discussion in both my university house and my home in London. It has allowed me to be inspired by every element of my life, from my emotions to my friends to my experiences on campus. It has allowed me to analyse how my version of Judaism impacts the way I view events and experiences. But mostly, it has allowed me to talk. It gave me a platform to show the world a small insight into my views and opinions on Judaism, and Israel and on anything I felt was important. Whilst some may not have read and agreed with everything I have written, I am honoured to have had people come up to me and tell me how inspired they were by things I wrote, or tell me about the emotions I provoked by one of my pieces. Accepting this job was a risk. But it is one of my favourite risks, and one that well and truly paid off.

To round off my final blog, it seems only fair to say thank you to all of the people who helped me along the way. To friends and family who sat patiently for hours whilst I described ideas for articles, to my parents for being my surrogate editors and helping me end with a “bang” each time, to my Papa for getting the ball rolling in the first place. But mostly, I would like to thank Asha and Jamie for being the best co-bloggers I could have wished for. They are both incredible writers, who have helped and inspired me so much in the past year, both with the articles that we did agree on and those that we didn’t.

Asha wrote in her final article that we have each been “brave … to share parts of ourselves in words” through these articles. If there is any message I want to give in this final article, it is that. Be brave, and take risks. Believe in yourself and your ability to achieve. As Rabbi Noah Weinberg wrote: "People often avoid making decisions out of fear of making a mistake. Actually the failure to make decisions is one of life's biggest mistakes."

Orli West is in her second year at Birmingham University where she is studying Education.

Read the previous entry here.

September 12, 2018 10:15

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