The Importance of Going Out of Your Comfort Zone

Take a moment and think about the last time you went out of your comfort zone in a major way. How long ago was it? How has it changed you? Can you even think of an instance? The moment that comes to my mind was attending the University of Florida.

I was born and raised in New York State, about one hour from Manhattan. I have lived in the same house my entire life, and I love New York and my town with my whole heart. People ask me all the time, “Why did you come to UF?” I often laugh and mention something about the weather. But the real answer is much more complex: I wanted to push myself outside of my comfort zone.

I have never been one to take risks. I’m shy, a homebody and my parents are my best friends. Everyone from my high school assumed I would choose a college no more than a couple hours away from home. So you can imagine everyone’s shock when on May 1, I announced that I chose a school that was over 1,000 miles away. So why did I choose to go somewhere so far with so few out-of-state students? First of all, I visited UF twice, and it truly did feel like home. I knew in my heart UF was the right choice when I got my acceptance letter. But I think subconsciously there was a part of me that wanted to do something drastic and unexpected, because I had never really done anything like that.

My first semester at UF was some of the hardest weeks of my life. Before then, I had never been away from my family for more than a week, and I didn’t know a soul here. My graduating class was made up of 115 students. Trying to find my way in a sea of 50,000 students was daunting to say the least. I thought about transferring and even visited another school in upstate New York over Thanksgiving break. However, I ultimately decided to stick it out. Things immediately started turning in the spring semester. I got into the Honors Program and joined a few clubs, one of which I met my best friends in. I created a life that I am proud of and happy to be living, and the fact that I overcame adversity to get here makes it even more enjoyable in the end.

Leaving your comfort zone can be terrifying. It can be difficult at first, but pushing through the pain will ultimately lead to a happier life. You’ll feel good about yourself for having the courage to do something you weren’t comfortable with. You could open up a whole new world of opportunities that weren’t available to you before. The benefits of trying something new are endless.

If you’re unsure about how exactly to go about leaving your comfort zone, start small. Wear an outfit you wouldn’t have dared to wear before. Go to the movies alone. Do something completely spontaneous without thinking it through too much. From there, you’ll discover how empowering it is to change things up, and you just might be able to incorporate that into your life in bigger ways.

So once again, think back to the last time you went out of your comfort zone. If you can’t think of a circumstance, or you think it’s been too long, I encourage you to start thinking about the changes you can make to move in that direction.

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