For the most part, I’m a relatively predictable person. I usually buy my clothes from the same few stores at the mall, I’m not a huge fan of trying out non-chain restaurants that I’ve never heard of, and I mainly only watch TV if House or Lost is on. Predictability isn’t a bad thing — we all like what we like — but it’s a good idea to get out of our comfort zones every now and then.
Your comfort zone is basically the type of environment that you’ve grown used to living in, or what you’re comfortable doing. It usually defines the type of lifestyle you lead, and most people tend to live in their comfort zones. A shy person would probably be too terrified to walk into a crowded room full of people they don’t know to ever give it a shot, and someone that only speaks English would probably avoid going on vacation to China because they don’t know the language.
College is a great time to step out of your comfort zone. In fact, you’ll probably be forced to do so whether you want to or not.
I wouldn’t classify myself as someone that loves getting up in front of large groups, but when I was an undergraduate I had to stand in front of a roomful of my fellow students and sing in Italian. I’d certainly never sung in front of people before, let alone in a language I don’t know. I taught one of my world music classes how to do the hula, which I taught myself the night before thanks to the handy how-to guide that came along with the Hawaiian CD I purchased for the assignment.
Thomas Rochon, the president of Ithaca College in Ithaca, New York, posted a blog on the school’s website on May 3, 2010:
One of the most common but nonetheless valuable messages we give our students is: “Get out of your comfort zone.” It is especially important for new students to hear this, because the only way to fully take advantage of an Ithaca College education is to sample the enormous breadth of experiences that are available. There are a wide variety of courses to be taken, student clubs and activities to get involved in, friends to meet, perspectives to encounter. The college years are a period of remarkable growth for most young adults, and time spent out of one’s comfort zone is a significant factor in producing that growth.
Ithaca isn’t the only school urging students to get out of their comfort zones, and you can find easy ways to get out of yours right on your own college campus.
These are just a few easy ways to start getting out of your comfort zone during college. It’s a good idea to practice doing things that make you feel slightly nervous before you graduate, because most likely you’ll feel awkward on job interviews and at your new workplace. Getting out of your comfort zone can help build your confidence, so you’ll be glad that you practiced when your new boss assigns a project that you don’t even know how to do!
Melissa Rhone earned her Bachelor of Music in Education from the University of Tampa. She resides in the Tampa Bay area and enjoys writing about college, pop culture, and epilepsy awareness.