Overcoming challenges and barriers—you know those things that at the time you experience them, they are incredibly stressful, anxiety-inducing and undesirable— these are the situations that push out of the comfort zone and really enable you to thrive and flourish.
Look at this tree closely. Trees can demonstrate something beautiful: one’s ability to grow after a difficult obstacle. This tree was chopped right off at the base, something that should have been detrimental for that organism’s existence and role in the forest. After the passage of time you can see numerous trees growing on top. When you think about it, this tree had a pretty spectacular outcome. The tree is now different. It stands out. It stands tall. In fact, other trees rely on it for their own existence. It’s quite inspiring, really.
Now it does seem bizarre to compare a human being to a tree. The equivalent pain this tree experienced in its past is not necessary for the analogy to be true for people, but overcoming struggles is key to personal growth. For the tree, after challenge, it’s physical growth transformed from what it was meant to grow into, to something unique and even more beautiful. For us, personal growth is what we experience after overcoming challenge. We strengthen our character, our confidence, our talents, and who we are.
The comfort zone is a comfy, warm, safe space. It’s a neutral zone where stress and anxiousness is at its low. Challenge and stress will undoubtedly happen on its own. So why would you ever want to choose to leave the zone? Here’s why :
Challenging yourself can help you reach your maximum potential. Achieving new accomplishments in life - whether it be training to run a 5K, applying for your dream job, or helping a child learn - there is always risk you might not succeed. What some people miss is that failures make your comeback, and eventual accomplishments that much stronger. You fail, you learn, you improve, you then take on a tougher challenge next time.
Continuous learning. Expanding your knowledge is essential for the development of your brain, it also does your mind wonders. Feeding your hunger for knowledge feeds your mind, body, and soul.
Develop your strengths and foster your creativity. Improving on what you already have will strengthen and develop your existing qualities.
Flexibility flexibility flexibility. When unexpected things occur in the future, you will be better equipped to handle the situation accordingly. If your life is ruled by habit and routine, a spontaneous occurrence could be seen as negative. If you have developed adaptability and a comfort for the ambiguous, you will thrive and grow in these scenarios. It comes down to your mindset.
There is an immense sense of fulfillment and happiness when you are continuously challenging yourself, expanding your knowledge, and embracing the change within you. Volunteering abroad helps you achieve all of these things. You will learn that actual failure is rare, because most often the outcomes are learning and growth. And that in itself is success.