I believe in the power of leaving your comfort zone and keeping an open mind. Since I was born in Mesa, Arizona I have lived in 11 different towns, 5 states, and 2 countries. I have spent 9th, 10th, and 11th grade, all at different high schools, and attended a total of 6 schools since 4th grade, not to mention the others that I was too little to remember. All this in only 16 years. My life has been a constant whirlwind of changes and fluctuations. Incredibly, I am still not an expert at it. I have packed my entire life into paper boxes more times than I can count on both my hands, yet I still struggle every single time, which is the best part.
The first time I can remember vividly where I went through this process, and probably the most notable, was in the middle of my fourth grade school year. My mom was suddenly offered a job through her company in Barcelona Spain, and we were off. I felt like the world was crashing down on me, my little ten year old brain couldn’t handle it. I moved from a small school where there were only ten people in my entire grade, to a big, scary, foreign one where everyone spoke a language I couldn’t understand. At first, it was horrible. It wasn’t like I had made the decision myself either, I had been forced. When we first got there, I was miserable. I didn’t want to talk to anyone and I spent the days avoiding the ultimate reality that was looming over me. I was embarrassed and upset because I couldn’t understand the Spanish kids and I longed to go home to my normal life. One day, one of my teachers told the class to make a list of our biggest fears and things we struggle with. I remember what I wrote: public speaking, making new friends, and failure. After collecting the papers he walked over to the trash and threw them away. “Take this as a symbolic way of getting rid of your struggles. Whatever you wrote down, go do those things. Face your fears, get uncomfortable, do the hard stuff,” he told us. I was young, but I suddenly had a change of heart and decided to take his advice. I made a pact with myself to, from that day forward, make an effort to start a conversation with a new person every day. I started speaking up more in all of my classes and even signed up to give a presentation at a school assembly in front of everyone. It was a huge step for me. Doing these things was my way of stepping out of my comfort zone and doing the unpleasant stuff.
I had a revelation that day in the classroom. I realized that denying your situation is worthless if you can’t change it. The greatest solution is to open your mind and focus on the positives. For me this was recognizing that I was getting the opportunity of a lifetime to live in Europe and experience a new culture and a new world. Slowly and painfully I learned the language and talked to people and made friends. At the end of my third year there, I realized that Spain was the best thing that had ever happened to me. It is something I carry with me everywhere I go. Now, every time I arrive somewhere new, meet someone new, or try something new, I make a point to only look at them under a positive light and not let myself get too comfortable. Just this year, I tried out for a sports team that I never expected to get on. I ended up making it. Life is all about challenging yourself to try harder and be better which is what I try to do every single day.
This I Believe.