Sometimes, feeling uncomfortable is the only way to grow.
I will be the first to say it: I hate being uncomfortable. I hate being unsure of what I'm doing, what I'm going to do or how to react to something.
Like most people, I spent most of high school doing everything in my power to avoid being uncomfortable. This includes typically not associating with people I didn't know, making sure I had my schedule written down and that I knew exactly what I was doing next, and most importantly, not doing anything that could possibly be embarrassing (like only raising my hand in class when I was 100% sure my answer was correct). Because of this, I was almost never uncomfortable. I was set in my routine and did not want it any other way.
Looking back, I realize this was precisely my problem.
Since coming to college less than two years ago, I have begun to see that the times I was uncomfortable are the times I grew. Most recently, that was going to Ghana for three weeks: I was literally uncomfortable for the entire three weeks. New places and people everyday. For someone who loves her routine, talk about stimulation overload. Before Ghana, it was deciding to become an Orientation Leader for incoming freshmen and spend a long weekend acclimating them to life as a college student. There's nothing like having those awkward, "boring" discussions with students just one year younger than you about the university's policies on alcohol. Or, one of my favorites: deciding to go through sorority recruitment and spending three straight days talking about myself and my values to girls that I did not know - basically 10 hours a day of girl flirting.
The common theme throughout all of these experiences is new. New people. New places. New foods. New cultural norms. As awkward and scary this may be, having "new" experiences in life is truly the only way you can ever grow as a person. Whether the new experience is trying a Ghanaian tribal dance with a tribe in rural Africa, or pushing yourself to act confident when you were definitely not feeling that way on the inside, at the end of the day, you've grown.
Tomorrow, I am traveling to Montego Bay, Jamaica for a week of service at the Mustard Seed orphanage. All the children at the orphanage have disabilities - physical, mental, or both. Many of them are not verbal. I have never worked with children like this. We are not using our cell phones during the trip.
Am I nervous? Yes. Was I apprehensive to even take this trip? Definitely. But am I ready to be uncomfortable, whatever that may mean in context of the trip? Absolutely.
In many ways, developing the comfort of being uncomfortable is similar to anything else - it takes practice. The more often you allow yourself to feel vulnerable and awkward, the easier it will become to embrace the challenge of allowing yourself to grow. Being uncomfortable will always be, well, uncomfortable - but there is beauty in that.
There is beauty in growth, and there is beauty in realizing you are so much more than you think you are. Sometimes, all it takes is being willing to accept the discomfort.
Just living, learning + loving and writing some of it down along the way. Senior + Director of Panhellenic Recruitment at Elon University in North Carolina. Currently interning + curating social for some badass clients at SFW in Greensboro, NC. Yogi, sightseer, shopaholic, foodie, writer.
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