We all know what it’s like to be out of our comfort zone. For some of us, going out our comfort zone means speaking in front of a crowd or getting on a roller coaster. While others stay within their comfort zone, I encourage those around me to venture outside of it.
You learn so much about yourself when you cross the line of comfort and healthy discomfort. (I specifically say “healthy” discomfort because I don’t encourage people to put themselves in mental and physical danger.) In fact, I’ve learned both new skills and more about who I am by venturing outside of my comfort zone.
Somewhere along my freshman year of college I picked up the thought: “learn how to be comfortable with being uncomfortable”. I remember reflecting on the quote and I made a commitment to myself to venture out of my comfort zone in college.
Even after college, I still think about this quote every time I consider trying something new in my life. Whether it was leaving everything behind after graduation to move to Southern California or working different jobs, I’m committed to trying new things in my life.
Here’s what I’ve learned and what you can also experience embracing how to be comfortable with being uncomfortable:
1. I learned how to (quickly) adapt to new situations
In any new situation you enter, you have to make sense of the environment you’re in. You’re figuring out the structure of the class or the work place, what the culture is like, and the expectations of you and your peers around you.
In college, I decided to take a ballet class for quarter. Ballet was one of the most challenging sports I’ve tried so far. I was a gymnast growing up and I yearned to learn how to dance. Ballet pushed me to learn how to be comfortable with the structure of the class and also a new way to move my body.
We used to start on the bar, then we’d waltz across the floor, next we’d learn a new dance sequence, and we’d end the class with jumping. My class also danced with a pianist and was my first time learning how to dance with live classical music. Each section of class challenged me in new ways. As a former gymnast, I felt so stiff and awkward at times… but I still remember the feeling of finally learning all the skills I needed to tie together to waltz across the floor.
Reflection: What experiences have taught you to adapt to new situations? Are there new any sports, hobbies, or activities that you’ve always wanted to do? What’s kept you from trying these new experiences?
2. Learn new skills or what areas you can grow
I’ve had 4 jobs in less than three years. One job that pushed me to my limits was my second finance rotation with the Boeing Company. In finance, I learned how to improve my technical/excel skills.
I did not have any experience with excel prior to my two finance roles at Boeing. And launched in a role that spent 8 hours a day learning how to work with big data sets.
I absolutely struggled my first 3 months in my job and relied heavily on youtube to learn how to navigate excel. I had to schedule excel coaching lessons with my managers and co-workers. I remember feeling incompetent, but my mentor reminded me that I was learning not incompetent. But at the end of my 6 month rotation I had gotten comfortable using pivots and sum if formulas. I realized that even though it took me some time to figure out excel, I could actually do a data focused finance job.
I had feared a more technical role but learned that dedication and commitment allowed me to learn a new skill. Now I can take heavy amounts of raw data and transform them into charts that we can make business decisions from.
Reflection: What types of skills do you want to develop? Intrapersonal, technical, or operational? What new roles could you explore to help you build these skillsets?
3. Opportunities come when you seek them
My freshman year of college I decided to rush for a professional business fraternity in hopes of preparing myself to apply for the business school. Besides learning how to interview and sell Krispy Kreme donuts in Red Square, rushing for Alpha Kappa Psi showed me the importance of building your network and finding new opportunities. One of the things I was tasked with as a pledge was to do informational interviews with existing members of AKPsi.
I ended up doing an informational interview with a member who talked to me about her internship experiences at the Federal Reserve System. She told me that she was able to apply and get that internship by joining a program called INROADS – a business development program to help students of color prepare for corporate internships. She encouraged me to apply for the program in fall.
If I hadn’t decided to rush for Alpha Kappa Psi, I wouldn’t have set up an informational interview with this member.
And if I hadn’t met with her, I would have never applied to INROADS.
If I didn’t have INROADS in my life, I wouldn’t have learned how to properly write a resume, a cover letter, and or land my two internships with the Boeing Company.
Opportunities don’t always happen by chance. You have to set yourself up to be successful in your career and life. Personally, one choice let to an opportunity that led to another and another.
Reflection: What type of opportunities or dreams have you chased in life? Whether they turned out in success or in failure, did you learn from the experience? What other opportunities or dreams are you wanting to pursue? What should be your first step in fulfilling them?
These are just 3 benefits you gain form learning how to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. What experiences have brought you out of your comfort zone? What benefits or challenges did you experience from those experiences?
Thank you for reading!
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