I grew up in a very small town with little opportunity to truly get out of my comfort zone. I played a major role in my school’s spring musical, and that was the most uncomfortable I’ve ever felt (in a good way). I can get on stage in front of people, I can move away to college and I can join a new club. But rarely have I rarely gotten out of my comfort zone in a healthy and adventurous way.
Since I’ve been at college, I have made great strides; I joined a club called Her Campus where I didn’t know anyone, I went to a yoga class alone and I openly contribute in class. However, although I’m very proud of my progress, I’ve always thought I could take it even further. So, in early January, I made a profile on aupairworld.com, which is essentially match.com for host families and au pairs. If you’ve never heard of it before, an au pair is a foreign nanny who cares for a host family in exchange for a place to stay, three meals a day and a small amount of pocket money (how much depends on the country and family). I’ve been out of the country a couple times in my life, but never alone and never for a long period of time. Not only have I not yet declared a specific major and have little to no idea of what I would like to do for a career path, but also I do not have a house or kids or any other large responsibilities to keep me tied down here. So I figured, why not now? Why not do something I’ve never done before?
Although nothing is set in stone yet, I plan to take a gap year for 2019-2020 and spend six months in Spain and then three more in either Australia or New Zealand. And that really scares me.
I have had issues with mental illness for upwards of six years now, and although I have learned coping mechanisms and ways to manage myself, it is always a prevalent issue. In general, I am stable and have been making a lot of progress. However, I go through episodes of vulnerability and instability where I experience feelings of anxiety, hopelessness, insecurity, mild paranoia, depression, etc. I am getting better with knowing what to do when I am in an episode, but going to another country alone could cause my moods to be extremely unpredictable.
Sure, I could thrive, but I could also really struggle. However, I will never find out unless I try. In order for me to grow, I need to be uncomfortable and I need to be scared. So, I guess this is a perfect opportunity because I am VERY scared. I’m scared to leave my friends, family, boyfriend and my life. This is probably the ballsiest thing I have ever done, and it’s terrifying; the unknown is one of the scariest things any of us can confront—even with small things, like going to a yoga class alone. But if I can do it, then practically anyone can. I used to be the most anxious and fearful girl that I knew; now, I’m planning to live in a foreign country.
My point is, everyone needs to start somewhere. I encourage you to get out of your comfort zone with whatever medium you choose: post a selfie with no makeup, eat at a restaurant alone, audition for a play, wear that skirt you’ve always thought was a little risky—it doesn’t matter!
You have one lifetime to experience it all in the best way you can, so it might as well be on your terms—not your fears.
Take a chance and step over the boundaries of your comfort zone. Even if it doesn’t always work out, it’s worth it in the end. I can’t wait to see us grow.