According to the Cambridge Dictionary, “comfort zone” is defined as “a situation in which you feel comfortable and in which your ability and determination are not being tested.”
Even if we try to deny it, staying within our comfort zone is almost inevitable. There seems to be a greater force that makes us stay close to what’s familiar, preventing us from stepping out of our safe space. We prefer to have an established routine, where challenges tend to be left out. Also, many of us feel more at ease when acting like most people do, having similar preferences and walking the same path as everyone else.
I used to be that way. In 2020, I was a senior in high school. I was a responsible student and quite a predictable person, who liked to go walking, loved singing, listening to music, cooking and riding my bicycle. Everyone, including my old self, would have said I had everything under control.
However, the pandemic made me rethink my way of living. Lockdown was hard. We all experienced complicated emotions, and had more time to ourselves. Overthinking became an issue for many, especially for those of us who were already overthinkers in the pre-pandemic world. In this situation, I realized something had to change.
Yes, I was successful and good at what I did. I had an “ideal” routine. But, my day to day was repetitive. I kept doing things that didn’t challenge me at all. I wasn’t learning or growing. Actually, I was representing exactly what the Cambridge Dictionary defines as a comfort zone.
You can be outstanding at what you do. Yet, if you keep doing the same things every day, there is no space left for growth. We should desire discomfort and learning. It is scary, but definitely worth it. Risk might come with expanding our comfort zone, and that’s okay. Failure is part of the process, it should not be feared.
It is often recommended to college students to “get out of their comfort zones”. Don’t be scared to take a class you wouldn’t typically choose, participate in a new activity, volunteer or take a semester abroad.
Last year I discovered I don’t want to be predictable anymore. I want to try things that make me feel slightly nervous. I want to discover, experience and thrive. I want to be a constant student and stop fearing uncertainty.
It is not hard to survive on routines. However, those who truly bloom are the ones ready to learn, grow, try new things and be constant learners. I encourage you to live your life as if you were a college student forever. Even after graduating, don’t forget to expand your horizons, be curious and question your surroundings.
Milagros Orcoyen is a sophomore at Universidad Argentina de la Empresa (UADE) studying public relations and communication science. She serves as the leader of the events committee at PRSSA UADE. Outside of PRSSA, Milagros is the communications coordinator at GEO (a sustainable development center). You can connect with her on LinkedIn.