In 2018, I don’t think I spent enough time doing things outside of my comfort zone. The only thing that I would consider going outside my comfort zone this year was deciding to join a sorority. This may sound odd, but it was a tough one. I was more hesitant to join a sorority than I was most of the things I’ve ever done before. It was something that I knew absolutely nothing about and a process that I never understood. I wanted to branch out and make more friends, so I made that decision to go through the process of rushing.

And that one decision did change things. I have made more friends, I have had more social opportunities, and I have joined an organization that will provide endless opportunities for me in the present and future.

There have been situations in which I was forced to go outside of my comfort zone. For example, almost every aspect of my experience with epilepsy. It was nothing like an situation I’ve ever been in, and nothing I ever would have been comfortable with. While it was the most difficult thing I’ve been through thus far, nothing has been the end of the world yet. I’m okay and it has become somewhat in my comfort zone. If you have read any of my previous blog posts, you know how much stronger it has made me.

Another forced change – no longer being an athlete. It was the normalcy I had always had for 13 years. Losing swimming has been very difficult for me and has pushed me way out of my comfort zone. However, it has led me to all different kinds of experiences – taking more classes, joining a sorority, and jumping into a different role as a team member. My new position as “team manager” has been a learning experience to be better prepared to be a swim coach if I ever decided to do that. There are goods and bads with each change.

Other than those cases, for the most part, I’ve been stuck in the same frame of mind and following my routine, doing the same things every day. Waking up, going to class, helping out at practice, grabbing a bite to eat, going to another class, work, and then cooking dinner with my roommate. On the weekends, I usually end up sleeping in, catching up on my work, and usually attending sorority events and then going home to quiet nights with my best friends. Which is great. My best friends mean the world to me, and the party scene doesn’t appeal to me at all. But I haven’t spent much time doing much other than that.

I have been given opportunities that I didn’t take advantage of. The excuses that I used to justify it myself were endless. I was too anxious. I didn’t think I could handle them. I wasn’t outgoing enough. But, as the years go on, I’ve realized that I can handle more than I ever thought.

Whether it’s the opportunity to go to a social event, a leadership position in an organization, travelling, or anything else you can think of, DO IT.

One of my New Year’s resolutions this year is to say YES more often. To say yes to situations in which I have the opportunity to experience new things. Ones that are rational, safe, and positive. Every single one will help you grow. Even the forced situations that I’ve conquered in the past year have helped me grow stronger and learn new things. It sounds corny, I know. But it’s the truth.

If you’re not convinced yet, I have a question for you. How did these things become comfortable to you?

When I began writing, it came naturally to me. I loved every minute of it. But when people began to tell me I should share it, I was terrified. I remember submitting to SwimSwam for the first time – with shaking hands. It took me a whole year to start this blog. I was so embarrassed to share my story, thinking that people would judge me. I still have hesitations each week. Will anyone read this? Am I actually helping one? Am I interesting enough? I still don’t know the answers, but I go for it anyway.

Swimming was so scary for me at first. When I was younger, I didn’t know if I was good. When I joined my first swim team, I didn’t know if I was good enough to take it to the next level. Swimming in college intimidated the crap out of me. But, I did it. It has impacted my life more than anyone would ever know.

Attending college had always been a given. As a freshman in high school, I sat and daydreamed about what it would be like. Instantly clicking with my roommate, falling in love with the boy I would marry, and making a million friends that I would have for a lifetime. But as senior year came around, I knew a lot more than that. I knew that things don’t necessarily go the way you plan. I remember waving goodbye to my parents as they pulled out of the parking lot of my freshman year dorm building. They were going home, and they were leaving me there. And I wouldn’t go home until Thanksgiving. Something new. Something scary. But, ultimately, Sacred Heart is one of the best things that has ever happened to me.

The same went for applying for jobs. And then,  my first day of my first internship. I was terrified.

Point is – everything that you have in your life right now started with the decision to go outside of your comfort zone. I realize, as I’m typing this, that if I hadn’t done all of the things that weren’t necessarily easy for me, I wouldn’t where I am now. I wouldn’t be nearly as successful. I would have missed out on so much happiness and people I love more than anything.

The same goes for you. No one accomplishes anything without being uncomfortable. Comfort can be great, but if it goes too far, it can inhibit growth.

It’s all about new experiences. It’s all about reaching your potential. Trying new things could help you grow more than you’ll ever know. Say yes. You never know what opportunities will come your way.

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