8 Lessons In 8 Semesters: Lesson 2

8 Lessons In 8 Semesters

Diarmuid Brady


January 22, 2024

Don’t avoid difficult conversations.

💡  Are you confrontational or conflict avoidant?
       How has this trait changed for you over time?
       How has this trait impacted your life?

The conclusion of my first semester left me feeling hopeful about what my second semester might hold, yet I couldn’t have foreseen what followed. While I maintained my academic performance, I also aimed to prioritise spending time with friends I had made during the first semester. I didn’t want to experience that sense of being stuck in the middle again. However, two significant events disrupted my plans. Firstly, the COVID-19 lockdown hit, scattering everyone. Secondly, and of greater importance, I made a mistake I regret to this day.

From the prior semester, I had a friend whose company I enjoyed, but in hindsight, I wish I had spent more time with them. Unfortunately, I began hearing unfavourable things about them. Upon receiving this information, I felt conflicted. I felt guilty for knowing this gossip, which clashed with my distaste for it. Nonetheless, it led me to question the future of our friendship, causing a frenzy of overwhelming and anxious thoughts. It was a situation I hadn’t encountered before-a dilemma where I had information that might affect me, yet simultaneously felt it wasn’t my place to know in the first instance.

While I pondered ignoring it, the fact that the information came from someone I trusted added to my distress. I considered discussing it with my friend, but the fear of being perceived as invading their privacy or appearing gullible held me back. Ultimately, I opted to ignore it, hoping the issue would fade away. However, it persisted, intensifying the pressure I felt internally. Despite a gut feeling nudging me to address it, a greater fear of making the wrong choice led to inaction. The stress mounted, eventually resulting in me distancing myself from that friend. Later on, they learned about it. Understandably, they were upset with my immature and evasive approach to the situation.

Looking back, I had made a mountain out of a molehill. A simple, open, and honest conversation would have likely resolved the matter without causing hurt feelings. But fear and insecurity clouded my judgment, leading to the regrettable decision of avoidance, which, in the end, backfired.

When faced with challenging social situations, opting for open, honest, and direct conversations is the preferred path. It’s almost always the right solution, with very few exceptions. In cases where I’ve had these difficult conversations, the relationships either grew stronger or revealed their fragility. In any case, confronting the issue directly tends to yield better outcomes.

That wraps up my first year of college. In the next semester, I began thinking about my lifestyle—how I wanted to spend my time, or more precisely, how I DID NOT want to spend it!