Get the f**** out of your comfort zone
Updated: Feb 21
You’re young. Many of you (not all) don’t have much to worry about in your life. Your worries might include getting good grades and landing a solid internship. I’m not criticizing. College can and is the best time of people’s lives. It’s a period where you have few worries because there’s little to care about. You’re not subjected to paying rent or keeping up will bills, you don’t need to go to work from 9-5 PM every day, and you sustain the energy to keep up with your schoolwork and your social life. How is it not the good life?
My one wish for undergraduate students is for them to push themselves out of their comfort zones simply because they’re young and have minimal worries. I get it - we all want to do well and have good social lives, but do you really need to everything with your friends? Can you venture beyond your circle for more than five minutes? It’ll do good for you.
During the fall semester of my junior year, I studied abroad in Haifa, Israel. I was the only student from my college to attend the program that semester, and I was the second person from my college to actually attend the program. Ultimately, I was by myself in a foreign country.
Some people called me crazy for going to a country where there was...let’s just call it turmoil happening, and others were worried for me because there was turmoil happening. I didn’t care about what others thought of my actions, and I put those thoughts in the back of my mind. My decision was final; I was studying abroad in Israel.
People asked me why I studied abroad in Israel. I had to study abroad for my major, and I had a concentration in Middle Eastern and Arabic Studies, so it made sense I ventured somewhere in the Middle East where Arabic was spoken. In addition to these school-mandated requirements,
I didn’t want to be in a program where I was surrounded by a bunch of my college friends. I didn’t want to study abroad in a program that was essentially an extension of my school. I wanted to get out of my comfort zone and do something I knew I wouldn’t have the opportunity to do again and immerse myself into an unknown culture. I wanted to push myself beyond the limit and determine how I’d act in an unfamiliar situation. I wanted to be anything but comfortable.
Although my family and friends worried about me the entire time I was in Israel, it was one of the best decisions I ever made. I was able to adapt to an entirely different culture than my own, and I was able to cultivate relationships with people whose first language was not English. I did so making connections and understanding their perspectives on life.
I’m not saying you should hop on a plane to Israel (although I’d highly encourage anyone to go there because of how beautiful of a country it is), but I want you to push yourself beyond your comfort zone and see how you react to it. Take a risk; put yourself in a situation where you feel uncomfortable or where you’re alone without friends. You’ll see what you’re capable of. That’s the only way you’ll grow as a human being because you’ll see how much you’ll push yourself when you’re in a situation where you need to make do with what you got.
Some suggestions for how you can push yourself out of the comfort zone are -
Study abroad without any friends or even students from your school (like I did)
Go to a foreign country alone where you don’t speak the language
Take a language class that you’ve got no experience in speaking
Take a class that has nothing to do with your major but sparks some interest in you
Take-up a sport or activity that you’ve got no experience in doing
Go on a service trip where you’re attempting to help others either nationally or internationally
Fund-raise for a cause that means a lot to you - and get yourself on the phone or go canvassing
Join a club by yourself that is of interest to you
...If you're having trouble starting, go the gym or a workout by yourself. Force yourself to do it alone, get through it, and kill it.