Ever since I was little, I have preferred to stay in my comfort zone. In my personal experience, it was always easier to stick with what I know than to purposefully seek discomfort and engage with the unfamiliar.
Recently, I have been told that I must “sit in the discomfort” in order to fully embrace the opportunities that life gives me. It is so easy to look at something that makes us uncomfortable and instead of facing it, turn away and choose an easier path.
While this might seem like the best way to handle a moment of anxiety because it allows us the opportunity to avoid the anxiety altogether, it prevents any development or growth.
For a long time, I very much preferred the path of avoidance and did not regret any of the decisions I made to avoid opportunities that brought me anxiety. I thought I was doing what was best for me by choosing the path of least resistance.
As I got older, I realized that by avoiding opportunities that brought me anxiety, I was ignoring what they truly were: opportunities. I realized that it is much more important to occasionally sit in the anxiety because I knew it would all be worth it in the end.
I believe it is important to acknowledge that by sitting in anxiety, I mean to face things that bring a few nerves, rather than things that bring high degrees of stress. Those instances must be handled in smaller steps or with the assistance of a professional.
For me, “sitting in the discomfort” has meant attending events with my friends that I would much rather not attend and being proactive about internship or job opportunities, and reaching out when I would much rather wait until they reached out to me.
After challenging myself with my own discomfort, I have never once failed to see the benefits. I often feel proud of myself, regardless of whether or not I achieved the exact outcome I was looking for. At least I tried!
This year has been one of development and growth. I am incredibly proud of myself for the opportunities I have taken and the challenges I have faced, even though, to an outsider, they might not have appeared to be challenging at all. As graduation nears, I think I have forced myself to recognize the hundreds of opportunities that I would be missing if I did not take advantage of them now. This realization has allowed me to recognize all of the things, no matter how small, that I should try and take advantage of before the end of May.
I wish the younger version of myself could see how much of my anxiety I have faced, no matter how small! Even though that is not possible, I know that I can recognize my achievements and feel proud of myself right now.
I look forward to seeing the growth I will continue to have, and I will continue to challenge myself to feel comfortable with what makes me uncomfortable.