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Mental Health

You Can’t Find Happiness in the Comfort Zone

I think everyone wants to be happy, it’s just that they don’t know what steps to take to get there. Me? I think I’ve always been okay with being comfortable. Comfort has always meant safety, and that was close enough to happiness. My fear of the unknown has driven all of my decisions and this was especially true in first year. The onslaught of new people, new extracurriculars and a new home overwhelmed me, so instead of facing the challenge head on, I retreated. I made a couple of friends and stuck to my circle and focused all my time and energy into being a student.

I saw everybody around me growing and changing while I stayed the same—not moving forward but not regressing either. This wasn’t something I realized was happening until I was asked about my interests one day. I genuinely had nothing to say. I had nothing to talk about because the only thing that made me comfortable was going to school.

It was in that moment I decided I had to change. I had to stop using my comfort zone as my crutch and start learning to walk without it. The biggest struggle about doing this was I had nowhere to start. I didn’t know what I liked, what I was good at, who I would fit in with—but I also had no experience with doing things that I was uncomfortable with. This scared me. How could I have lived 19 years without figuring out anything I liked? Nevertheless, I made an effort. I joined clubs that interested me but I had no experience with, from sports team to HerCampus. Doing something new by myself was frightening and uncomfortable, but I survived the experience, and now these extracurriculars have helped me learn more about what I like doing and what I don’t like, and have helped me learn that it’s okay to try something just for the experience. You don’t have to be amazing or exceptional to start something new.

With this big overhaul, I also wanted to start making more friends, as part of my comfort zone was relying on the same group of friends for everything. Talking to people scared me because it made me vulnerable. What if they didn’t like me? What if they made fun of me? But I had to take a step back and just start. I started making conversation with people I met a couple times in class, introducing myself to my friends’ friends, and making an effort to get closer to the people I did know. This not only made me happier, but from each new friend I made, it felt like I could learn something different from them.

So here is your reminder that comfort isn’t happiness. Happiness involves some not so happy things. It means doing things that can scare you because that’s the only way you’ll ever move forward. The comfort zone has nothing to offer you except stagnancy and there is so much more to do. I am by no means an expert, but even by taking baby steps, I’ve started to notice a change. So for everyone who’s like me, this is your reminder to push yourself because that’s where your life lies.

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Alicia Van

Western '21

Alicia is a full-time student in her second year of the Medical Sciences program. She's passionate about travelling (especially to Europe!), watching Youtube, and smiling at strangers. When she's not stressing about school, she likes to play Mario Kart, read self-help books, or convince her friends to do something fun. Catch her daily life @aliciaxvan.
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