Getting Out Of Your Comfort Zone

Paola Morales, Staff Writer

My hands were shaking as my mom tried to convince me to try out for the seventh grade basketball team. My body rushed with panic,  and my teeth chattered. My eyes filled up with tears as I realized that  there was no way I was going to be able to stay in my comfort zone.


Staying in our comfort zones is a natural human tendency. If we are not good at something—whether it’s a sport, public speaking, or specific subject in school—it usually brings us pain and discomfort to work on it, so why push ourselves, right? But sometimes, it’s a good thing to push yourself and get out there. Getting over fears of what others think and trying to pick up new skills have a lot of benefits. According to Abigail Brenner, a psychiatrist and contributor to Psychology Today, pushing yourself out of your comfort zone can keep your brain from aging, helps you deal with the stress and anxiety of major life changes later on, and can even help you be more creative.

Having to join a sport always terrified me. It was to a point where the mere thought of trying out for a team made me panic. When I had to try out for the basketball team, I physically felt terrible. I was lightheaded and felt like I wanted to actually throw up because of how nervous and scared I was. I felt as if everyone was going to judge my every move and point out everything I did wrong. I basically was just scared of looking like a fool in front of others.

According to Ms. Gina Hoffman, one of the psychiatrists at Round Lake High School, how we feel when getting out of our comfort zone is based mostly on our mindsets and we can easily overcome the terror we feel when we think about doing something new.

“Everyone has their own reason,” she said. “It has to do with mindset. What is the dialogue you’re having inside of your head? Are you saying those negative things like ‘Oh my god, I’ve never had to make new friends before, I don’t even know how to talk to people. What am I going to say?’ [Are you saying,] ‘What if they think I’m weird?’, and so on? Whereas [if] you have positive thoughts, it’s really re-framing the self-negative focus to the outward positive focus.”

Getting out of your little corner of safety is extremely hard for some people. However, in most instances it’s an amazing thing. Experiencing something new and different can completely change your life. Going back to trying out for the basketball team, it obviously was a terrible experience for me at the time, but it was actually a blessing in disguise. Wanting to be on a team so badly, and basketball not working out, led me to join tennis. Joining tennis was the first time I actually got out of my comfort zone. Even though it was very difficult to get myself to join, it has been one of the best things I’ve done.

Like me, many other people have had trouble with getting out of their comfort zone. Senior Jocelyn Perez struggled with venturing out of her comfort zone when she tried out for the volleyball team freshman year. “Every single day I’d go, I would be so upset,” Perez said. “All the other girls were always together and I felt left out. I feel like they just hurt me and my self-esteem.”

After feeling so isolated when it came to school and activities, she wanted to be a part of something. Instead of dwelling on her feelings of isolation and embarrassment, Perez kept pushing herself, and ended up becoming student council president.

“Student Council election changed me and gave me a boost of confidence,” said Perez. “Being passionate about student council, showing up to every meeting, and encouraging people to get involved, that was my calling and that is what made it up to me after those years of being rejected.”

When it comes to trying something new that scares you, most of the time it’s because of the fear of being judged. During basketball tryouts, the main reason I felt so terrible and nervous all the time was because I was absolutely terrified of looking like a fool in front of my team or anyone else watching. Just like me, Perez kept pushing herself to get out of her bubble despite all of the rejection and isolation from her team. Ultimately, she ended up becoming Student Council President because she didn’t let her fears get to her and decided to face them. Its obvious that doing something different will be scary and uncomfortable, especially when being afraid of being judged. However, you can’t be scared of what other people think of you, when in reality we don’t even know what people are really thinking.

“I think it’s for sure what we’re all comfortable with, but I also think that it’s an inner thing,” says Hoffman. “Because you’re saying ‘oh my gosh this is what they’re thinking if I do this’, but you don’t know what they’re thinking. They could be thinking something completely different.”

Changing your mindset to thinking positively will completely change that terrible feeling of feeling judged. In reality, we really don’t know what people are thinking so why should we go straight to the negative thoughts right away? Thinking positive will get you to a much better place.

Now, getting out of your comfort zone once doesn’t mean it stops there. There will always be things that scare us, but this is just a part of life. Perez still has struggles even after becoming Student Council President and feeling like she had her life together. For example, having to talk in front of people is still a huge struggle for her. “I’m still not fully comfortable with talking in front of a lot of people, but I’ve definitely made a huge amount of progress,” said Perez.

Going back to basketball and tennis, I am so extremely grateful that I had the strength to try something new and ultimately face one of my greatest fears because it completely changed my life. Same with Perez, if she had never gotten out of her comfort zone and tried out for the volleyball team, she would have not been introduced into Student Council which is a huge part of her life. The struggle will never stop, but it is simply a part of life that everyone has to deal with. Never hesitate to try getting out of that little bubble of comfort, because it could completely change your life.