“a place or situation where one feels safe or at ease without stress” (Google dictionary).
Sounds pretty fabulous, right? Well, it is and it isn’t. I love my comfort zone. At home, close to my loved ones, a secure job. It’s the dream, isn’t it? Yes and no. Up until college I never really left my comfort zone. It wasn’t until the summer entering my sophomore year of college did I truly leave it behind.
In the spring semester of freshman year I was nominated to attend an international business seminar. I figured it was perfect, I was (at the time) an international business major and I knew I wanted to study abroad in college. The only catch – the opportunity was in China. CHINA!? I had always thought I would be a Europhile; traveling and traipsing through different cities and countries in Europe, meeting hot European men, trying all the different foods, soaking up all the wonderful history and culture. But, up until that point, I had never been abroad besides neighboring Canada. And my Dad, of all people, suggested I go on this two week international business seminar to China.
I decided to go for it. And I have never once regretted it. I tell people that trip was the best two weeks of my life. And you know what, it’s still true to this day. I can’t pinpoint exactly why that’s the case. A big part of it is the awesome people I got to meet and befriend, most of whom I still stay in touch with today and see all over the globe. Another part of it was the immense culture shock and awe of China. (Much more on China in another post!)
But I think the biggest reason why it was the best two weeks of my life was it was the first time in my life where I felt truly, utterly and completely, alive. I’m not saying I didn’t have life-altering, life-changing experiences before China, because I certainly did. It’s just that being in China was so different, and so unexpectedly good. It was the first time I felt myself step completely out of my comfort zone and enjoy it. It was the first time I was on my own, responsible for my own well-being and health, and the first time I felt truly comfortable being ME.
And the worst
best thing about that trip? I got utterly addicted to stepping out of my comfort zone. Don’t get me wrong, I love, and even crave, routine as much as the next person. I need to have my schedule and have certain items be in certain places. But at the same time there’s a point where I realize I am TOO comfortable and decide to push myself out of the comfort zone again. It’s a never-ending cycle, but I am so thankful for that desire to step out of my comfort zone, because I never would have experienced half of what I’ve done without that push and desire.