You only have a year and a half left of high school, and you’ve chosen a college that you’re determined to go to – we couldn’t be more proud. But we are also nervous for you, as any parent is when their child is preparing to leave the nest. Most parents will tell you to wear a helmet, knee pads, elbow pads, mouth guard, shin guards, and so on, but I have to painfully urge you not to, even if it makes us panic a little bit inside to see you free of those protections.
Neale Donald Walsch is the author of Conversations With God, a very famous series of books (some of which I have read, others I haven’t), and he said something that has always stuck with me…
“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”
So what does that mean?
It means that if you’re comfortable and free of fear, you’re on the wrong path, you’re on the path to complacency, which is where most people inadvertently seek to be, because there is this idea that in life, success is being secure and unafraid. Wrong.
On your first day alone on a college campus, you’ll have these butterflies deep in the pit of your stomach, and you’ll be so excited to start the new venture, but the unknown will also terrify you. But if you’ve stayed inside of your comfort zone and brought your best friend with you, or gone to a college up the street from your house, you won’t have that fear, and your brain might tell you that you’re happy because you’re comfortable. But your brain will be wrong.
When you step out on your own in college, and later, your career, if you’re comfortable, nothing exciting can happen. No good story or inspiring tale starts off with “I was completely comfortable in my dull existence, and then…”
So before high school ends, try some new things. Join a club that sounds interesting but you might not be the most skilled at – don’t be scared to look stupid. Wear something daring that you worry you might be judged for – that’s what trendsetters do every day. Try more foods that may not sound great – remember when we had Pho and Vietnamese iced coffee? We hated the Pho and fell in love with the coffee, but what if we hadn’t tried either?
Remember – comfort is complacent, and complacence is the killer of innovation and exploration. If you are not afraid of your next steps, they’re not big enough for you.