This past Friday, Donald J. Trump was inaugurated and became our 45th president. Also, this past Friday was the one-year anniversary of my leaving to study abroad in Seville, Spain for five and a half months. One of my first thoughts was how incredibly fast time goes. My second thought was how much I missed everything about the city: its sights, its smells, its familiarity. But the third and most important thought was how incredibly glad I was to have stepped, flown rather, that far out of my comfort zone.
I arrived in Seville with nothing but a suitcase, a backpack and excitement for a new beginning. I knew no one who lived in the city and none of my friends from Goshen College were studying abroad with me. But within five minutes of my arrival to my new home, I met the person who quickly became my best and closest friend.
Throughout my time in Seville, I was constantly faced with new things: friends, experiences and support systems. It was exhausting at times, but the reward was so much greater.
One of the ways I stepped out of my comfort zone among friends was when my thoughts, beliefs and morals were challenged. I had to find ways to express myself and explain my position to people with different backgrounds than my own.
This experience helped me realize that often we become too comfortable, surrounding ourselves with people who share our thoughts and opinions; we forget what it’s like to have our beliefs and ideas put to the test. During my time in Spain, I quickly learned to refine my thoughts and opinions, and express myself confidently.
This past weekend, following the inauguration, Goshen community members took part in marches across the nation, from Chicago, to Indianapolis, to South Bend and to Washington D.C. Many were taking large steps outside their comfort zones for the first time, feeling like they needed to stand up vocally for what they believed in. This is my reminder that even though many of us, including myself, are very late, it’s a great first step towards courage and the changes and discoveries that come with it.
So no matter what you believe in or what you stand for, never be afraid to take that step, no matter how small, out of your comfort zone. Risk being uncomfortable and try something new, such as acting on your beliefs, values and morals. It may just give you everything you never knew you needed.