If I walk into a classroom, you will notice that I immediately go to the desks on the farthest left side and sit in the middle of that left side row. This is where I feel most comfortable-possibly because I’m left-handed, but more likely because I don’t like to be the center of attention in the classroom, and I feel like the teacher will somehow not see me and avoid calling on me (side note: I still get called on). This is not to say that I don’t enjoy learning or being engaged in the classroom discussions. But I fear being called on unexpectedly and sounding dumb because whenever that happens, I replay the whole situation over and over in my head, long after everyone has already forgotten it occurred.
When this school year started, my first being in college, I decided that I’m going to try to do as many things as I can outside of my comfort zone as possible. I am going to push myself to experience new things. And I may decide I didn’t enjoy something like I thought I would, but at least I tried.
The most important concept that I have learned from my challenge so far is this: It’s okay to not always step outside of your comfort zone.
Now that sounds completely opposite of what my challenge required. But hear me out. I did exactly what I said in my first scenario when I stepped into my first college class. My usual seat in classrooms didn’t change. However, I thought more about this as the week continued. I feel most comfortable when I sit on the left side of the classroom, not in the front. I feel as if I can relax and learn most comfortably in this seat. If i sit in the front, I begin to feel (unnecessary) anxiety and pressure. Therefore, for the benefit of myself, I keep sitting in the same seat.
Just because I seemed to have “failed” in one part of my challenge, doesn’t mean that I can’t continue my challenge! By embarking on this challenge, I am learning to appreciate little actions that I continually do (such as sit on the left side of the room). I don’t need to drastically change myself just to step outside of my comfort zone. Being outside of your comfort zone can be a quick jump or fall into a new activity or relationship…but that fall doesn’t mean you didn’t succeed. The whole purpose of stepping out of your comfort zone is to help you grow and learn more about yourself. Today I went to a gathering for other students in my program at school. We completed team building exercises and climbed a ropes course. The first time I heard about the event, I immediately RSVP’d to the email address provided, excited for the activities listed and the new friends I would meet. In the days prior to the event, I was trying to find out who from my school that I knew was going. None of my friends seemed able to attend, and it wasn’t until the day of the event that I learned that two of my friends wouldn’t be coming. That initial fear of solidarity began to creep in as the time arrived for me to leave. Who would I talk to and sit next to? Would I be the only one without any friends there? However, I pushed these thoughts out of my mind and thought about the potential there was for me to meet new people and create new memories. By thinking positively and pushing away the negative, I was able to refocus my attention and rely on my own happiness, not on the fact that my friends couldn’t accompany me. And as a result, the day was filled new found C.O.N.F.I.D.E.N.C.E.