Life begins at the edge of your comfort zone


Christina Coleburn, Senior Editor

If I could somehow go back in time, I would tell my freshman self that the life she envisions for herself can only begin at the end of her comfort zone. It is a piece of advice my mother gave me freshman year whenever I tried something new or set out to do something that initially felt uncomfortable. What may have come easy to some people felt challenging to me; my shyness and flailing self-esteem tended to exacerbate
already-tense situations.

Saying hello to acquaintances from class was nerve-wracking. What if their circle of friends was so full they could not possibly make room to smile and wave back to me in the dining hall? Submitting an essay that I had worked exceptionally hard on made my heart beat two times faster than normal. How could the professor not sense my insecurity through my writing, an intricately — if not desperately — crafted collection of strongly worded assertions that I could never convince myself were legitimate, even when substantiated with an inordinate amount of sources and statistics? I thought joining a student organization would be a disaster. How could the years of bullying I had endured in middle and high school not follow me from my small town in New Jersey to NYU, perpetuating the notion that I was less worthy, less deserving and less capable of
being loved?

I thought that no one would talk to me. I thought that not a single person would like me. It would be an arduous journey from move-in day to graduation.

At this point, much can be said about my college career. In keeping with my fears, many things have been utterly terrifying, but few experiences ever constituted a legitimate disaster. Plenty of experiences, more than I give myself credit for, have gone exceptionally well, and what has made the difference is an overdue refusal to be defeated by shyness. I want to say hello to my peers, confidently submit a paper and make potentially lifelong friends. I want some things to be scary, provided  that I can rise to the occasion. That is part of the full and enriching life I want to live and it does not
begin — though, believe me, I checked — on the cusp of my insecurity. It begins, as my mother poignantly reminded me, at the end of my comfort zone.

Those are the words of wisdom I would give to my 19-year-old self, or any other freshman students walking around campus with the mistaken belief that their anxieties stand a chance against their fortitude. That is the piece of advice all freshmen should take to heart. Do not let insecurity consume you. Life begins at the end of your comfort zone and in this case, it is best lived on the edge.

Opinions expressed on the editorial pages are not necessarily those of WSN, and our publication of opinions is not an endorsement of them. 

A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, September 8 print edition. Email Christina Coleburn at