Being Comfortable Being Uncomfortable-From Theory to Practice

get-out-of-your-comfort-zoneAs anyone who went to Wesleyan knows, it is difficult to say anything about the Wesleyan community as a whole. As a community that has actively tried to buck labels and categorizations, there is a noticeable resistance to generalizations. However, one quote was thrown around quite regularly in regards to Wesleyan students and was even mentioned by Majora Carter ’88 during the class of 2013’s commencement. “Wesleyan students are comfortable being uncomfortable.”

I don’t dispute this quote. I believe that people are able to have such new and incredible experiences in college and for many, it is impossible to come in as a first-year and not have moments of discomfort. Whether it was the orientation performance “In the Company of Others,” or the first time you raised your hand in a class where you were one of a handful of first years, these moments of discomfort can change how we see ourselves and gain broader understanding of the world around us.

However, I wonder if we all try to carry this practice in our post-graduate lives. Many of us are being thrown into new situations, new jobs, new schools, new cities. I believe many of us tend to want to seek the comfort of the familiar, finding new alum communities, carrying on our Wesleyan lives in whatever city we have landed in. I don’t mean to critique this decision, the bonds we have made in college will no doubt continue to be important to us, even after we have left Wesleyan.

But what is important is that we continue to be comfortable being uncomfortable. I was inspired to write this post after reading Leo Babauta’s “Why Fear of Discomfort Might be Ruining Your Life.”  While Babauta speaks mostly to situations of learning to like vegetables or starting an exercise program, his advice can be taken much further. What would it feel like to being comfortable being uncomfortable at work? What kind of gains could you make in being a little more fearless in your personal life? This advice fits perfectly with the articles we mentioned on our previous entry “Some Unsolicited Advice.” Go out, ask someone to be your mentor, form new network contacts, get involved with a new organization through volunteering. Remember what you heard at your first admission information session, remember what some of us were told more than two months ago. Go out and carry on the Wesleyan tradition, be comfortable being uncomfortable and see where it takes you.

Jelisa Adair

I am the Civic Engagement Fellow for 2013-2014. While a student at Wesleyan I double majored in Psychology and Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and completed a joint thesis during my senior year. I am interested in issues of social justice, mental health, media, and global welfare.