By Madelaine McBride
We all have a comfort zone. I have one. You have one. Personally, I like mine – it’s safe, warm, and predictable. Nothing unpleasant can ever occur within my comfort zone bubble.
Often I would love nothing more than to cocoon myself within the inviting folds of my comfort zone forever, and for years that’s what I did. But once I came to college I learned you cannot live in a bubble. Surprisingly, while there was some initial resistance, I didn’t actually mind popping my bubble.
Neither should you.
By nature, a comfort zone is comfortable. Typically you will only have things you like in there. For example, say you, like a lot of other people, dislike public speaking. Your perfect world, then, is a happy place where public speaking never takes place.
Then you come to college, and things change. One day you’re pursuing the list of credits you have to achieve in order to graduate and you notice you are required to take a speech class. You don’t want to take speech – it’s outside your comfort zone – but it’s required so, begrudgingly, you take the class.
But just that step of taking the class provides enough momentum to push you out of your comfort zone to do what you never thought you could do: give a speech. And maybe it’s horrible. Or maybe it’s amazing. It doesn’t matter how it went, what matters is that you did it at all.
Leaving your comfort zone allows you to learn you can do things you never thought possible. Perhaps for you that’s not public speaking, but maybe talking to the cute boy or girl in your chemistry class is, or moving to a new city, or skydiving. Some of these things are small, others are large, but they are all important because you did them.
Doing these types of things can help you learn more about yourself. Perhaps after you take speech class and learn it wasn’t as horrible as you were anticipating, you take a class where a large portion of your grade is determined by an oral presentation on a subject of your choosing. For a moment, you panic. Not only do you have to give speech, but it has to be a full-blown presentation, and you have to research about a subject that you have to choose.
However, whether you realize it or not you have already taken the first and hardest step out of your comfort zone by taking speech class. Subsequent steps won’t be as hard. So you take those steps, not necessarily by choice, but you still take them. And by taking those steps you begin to learn. Researching and prepping for your presentation could lead you to discover a potential career path you’d never thought of before. Or maybe you learn how to put together better PowerPoints, or how to facilitate discussions. Would you have learned those things by staying in your comfort zone? Probably not.
This learning, this stretching, this leaving your comfort zone – they all cause you to grow. Giving your presentation could cause you to realize that you actually enjoy presenting on topics that interest you. Then you could realize you might want to have a job that involves those things.
That’s how it happened for me.
Originally I wanted to stay in my comfort zone forever and never given a speech. But I had to take speech class, which led on to other things that eventually led me to realize the type of career I want to have.
None of that would have happened if I had allowed myself to stay in my comfort zone forever.
This is why I implore the rest of you to follow my example and kiss your comfort zones goodbye. I know it’s hard; it might be the most difficult thing I ever did. But it was also the most important. I believe you will discover leaving your comfort zone was worth it in the end as well.
So do the impossible. Learn all you can. And most importantly grow into the person you are meant to be.
It really is worth it.