College is often seen as a time of “finding” yourself, filled with numerous opportunities for growth and discovery.
Such a time often involves breaking out of your comfort zone. This, as the name implies, is a zone in which we feel comfortable and safe. On the flip side, this zone can also indicate a lack of growth.
Personally, the biggest jump out of my comfort zone has been attending graduate school. Through my program, I have come to learn various things about stepping out of my comfort zone.
Being an introvert in what seems like an extrovert’s field has come with many adjustments and challenges. As a graduate student, I am constantly being pushed out of my comfort zone and encouraged to grow.
As an undergraduate, I was not one to speak out in class. I would simply attend class, learn on my own and pass my exams. After going through graduate courses, I have realized that I cannot continue using that same familiar tactic. To succeed, I must be open to change and step out of my comfort zone to continue growing.
In my courses, we are all expected to speak out and contribute to class discussions. For someone reserved like me, this has been a big adjustment. As I wrap up my first year as a graduate student, speaking out in class continues to be a big adjustment. However, throughout my journey I have come to some conclusions regarding stepping out of my comfort zone:
It will pay off
As uncomfortable as it may be to do something beyond your comfort zone, it comes with benefits and growth. I have grown as a student and professional, learning to be more confident in myself and my ideas. Although the outcome was hard to see in the beginning, now I realize that every challenge is paying off and making me into a stronger and more confident person.
Small steps make a big difference
“Stepping out of your comfort zone” does not have to mean making life-altering changes. Breaking out of your comfort zone can come in small steps and make bigger changes in the future easier. The goal of making small changes is to become accustomed to embracing change.
Change leads to growth, not failure
It is important to embrace change and see it not as a path to failure but a path to growth. The way you frame an opportunity to step out of your comfort zone can make a big difference. Is it a chance for failure or for growth?
Embrace the mindset
Mindset is crucial. Going into a task with the mentality that you are enough and capable will make a difference. Stray away from disempowering phrases that discourage you from embracing change. Stand up tall and visualize yourself succeeding. Changes in mindset can lead to changes in one’s physical and emotional states.
Finally, remember that stepping out of your comfort zone does not mean you must change who you are. Rather, embracing the uncomfortable will help you learn more about yourself and uncover your full potential.