As I walked across the stage to receive my diploma, I was walking into the unknown. The sea of many thousand faces, with mine featured on the event center big screen, greeted me as I left familiarity. For the past four years I had known what to expect. Though life changes did occur, I would always resettle into my comfort zone.
My alarm would sound at 6am. I would get ready for the day, eat a bowl of cereal (or five, as those who have seen me eat breakfast very well know), drive to school, volunteer after school, return for dinner, complete my homework, go to bed, and repeat. My days always followed this pattern, with weekends holding more time for reading and catching up on sleep. During high school, I never took a chance. I shied away from clubs, sports, dances, and other school events. I was comfortable with where I was, but was no stranger to the monotony of routine.
Though I smiled as I walked across the stage, I was terrified. This was my biggest life change, and I wasn’t sure if I was ready. But what I’ve learned from stepping into this unknown is that we may never be ready. No matter how prepared you think you might be, or how confident you are in your direction, there will always be something that challenges you. And that’s the way it’s supposed to be.
Last summer I went from graduating high school, to taking a family trip abroad, to moving houses, to beginning college. Almost all of what was familiar had changed, and I was beginning my own life for the first time. For someone who had rarely left their comfort zone, these new experiences left me feeling as though I was lost in a forest with no compass to guide me. There was no returning to the past, and I had to learn to use the stars to guide me into my new dawn.
When I left my comfort zone, I left the old me behind and started anew. Finding myself has been a journey that is far from over, and though I am constantly changing my routine, I feel more grounded than ever before. A year ago, a small change in my schedule would have thrown off my inner balance. Now, I am constantly changing up my routine and interactions in order to avoid routine.
As many of you know, I traveled to Virginia over Spring Break. A year ago, if you had asked me “how do you feel about traveling on your own to a different state to experience an unfamiliar environment with people you don’t yet know?” I would have politely declined such an offer.
When I was thirteen, I surprised my family (and myself!) by deciding to go on a week long backpacking trip with the Women’s Wilderness Institute. I took off into the wilderness, with all of my travel companions being virtual strangers. I came out of this experience with a heightened self-awareness and confidence. In high school I lost my sense of adventure, only to have it return once I left my comfort zone.
The saying “life begins at the end of your comfort zone” could not be more true. Every time I have decided to step out of my comfort zone, I have come closer to finding out who I am and where I belong. As such, I have decided to actively live outside of my comfort zone. In doing so, I have met the most incredible people and have had many adventures worth remembering. My new goal is to live outside of my comfort zone, and embody my newfound spirit of adventure.
What do you think about living life outside of your comfort zone? I would love to hear your stories! Leave them in the comments below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, it makes my day to read your responses! 🙂
© The Wise Willow and Alyssa DeBella