Leaving Comfort Zones Helps Personal Growth

(01/21) Stepping Out Of Our Comfort Zone Helps Us Grow

Even if that means staying enrolled in a course that makes us feel a little bit like Elle Woods on her first day of law school.

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The first day of the semester is almost always one of the most intimidating, no matter what classes you are taking, what major you are, or what year of school you are in. Syllabus week is usually pretty laid back since the main activity is getting the course schedule and outline. However, with those documents comes the academic and personal expectations that school has officially begun; it is time to get back into the routine of attending classes and staying on top of course readings, which feels neverending, with that first day back. We also get a better understanding of the true nature of those classes on our schedules. Usually, the blurb in the course catalog and the reviews on Rate My Professors does not really do the course justice.

I am a communication management major, which focuses on interpersonal communication dynamics and how communication impacts daily encounters on both a personal level and a professional level. I fell into the major when I transferred to Cleveland State University and realized all the courses I was interested in met the requirements of the communication management degree program. Last semester, a course I had signed up for as an elective was not at all what I was expecting, due to the fact that I mixed it up with a different course, so I ended up dropping it and adding a different elective for the following semester, a course called Communication and Negotiation. I was intrigued by it because it dealt with conflict resolution and fit perfectly into my degree program.

I didn't really know what to expect with the course, so I went into the first day of classes with zero expectations. I waited in the hall and talked with a girl I had seen in a few of my other communications courses. The professor was running a few minutes late but once she opened the room up, we all filed in. I chose a random seat somewhere in the middle. We all know how the first day is choosing our unassigned assigned seat. The professor passed out schedules and the syllabus, stating that getting a copy on yellow paper meant nothing special. Already, I was caught off guard.

She began to explain the syllabus and how this is a "skills-based" class, not lecture-based, meaning that there would be many opportunities to learn the material through exercises in negotiation. The professor has a pass/fail requirement for journal reflections on the in-class negotiations, meaning that students need a passing grade on all journal assignments to receive full points toward the final grade. There would be four opportunities to turn in journals and the actual amount of journals to be counted towards the pass/fail grade were to be determined. In-class participation meant showing up prepared to participate in discussion with educated opinions, and if you don't say anything, then you don't get marked as present. To top it off, exam format was also to be determined, or rather, negotiated.

The tentative course schedule, yet rigid expectations were incredibly intimidating to me. The professor has a strong background in mediation, conflict resolution, and negotiation, and is passionate about the students learning the principles behind negotiation so that we can apply them in all sorts of situations. With all this information thrown at me, as well as the unusual and tentative nature of the course, I was so tempted to log onto my phone, search for alternative electives, see if there were any spots left, and drop the class then and there. The intense series of ice-breakers with fellow students did not help.

However, with all this going on, I realized that this is a course I genuinely wanted to take. Conflict resolution has always been so fascinating to me. I am all about people just getting along and being happy, but that is not realistic; ignoring and avoiding conflict is not healthy, either. I realized that in learning ways to resolve conflict and negotiate, as uncomfortable as it may feel initially, can actually help me not to be so afraid of it, just like taking this course. Even though it may be scary and intimidating at first, I know it will help me grow and will offer an opportunity to better myself, while also helping me finish my degree and prepare myself for the real world.

Here's to staying in this course and seeing this semester through with hard work, time management, and patience with the process, I know I can succeed in this course, in this semester, and in life. Personal growth is not meant to be easy, though it is absolutely worth it.

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To The Person Feeling Like They're Losing Their Hometown Friends

Don't fret to much, if they are truly your best friends, you aren't gonna lose them.

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When you grow up and leave home to go to college or whatever your plans are after high school, you and your hometown best friends promise to make time for each other. You promise to always get together over breaks and to visit each other if you aren't going to the same schools or living in the same town.

But you realize over time that maybe those promises aren't gonna be kept.

Life gets complicated. School starts to become harder and harder, there are extracurriculars and work, and trying to figure out the rest of your lives; things start to get in the way. Visiting starts to happen less and less, getting together over breaks gets more complicated, you try to stay in contact but the hours in the day seem to get shorter and shorter. There are too many things that you have to accomplish in one day that it's difficult to know if you can even get together.

You start to ask yourself "Am I losing my closest friends?"

And the answer to that question is no, your lives are changing and things are starting to become real but they will always be there. Just because you don't talk all the time or you go a few months without seeing each other, they are still your friends. They will always care and always be there. Don't stress about it too much, they are always gonna be there, it's just that your lives are pulling all of you in different directions and it can get hard to keep up with everyone because you are all so busy.

You are growing up but you're not necessarily growing apart!

If they are truly your best friends they will always be there, and you there for them. As time goes on, your lives will continue to change but you are always gonna be friends. Just know that they are there when you need them, and when you do get to see each other, it's like nothing has changed and you pick up right where you left off. Your friendship is important to all of you. Don't let a little bit of silence or a busy life cause problems. You haven't lost them, trust me, you all are just figuring out life. Don't take it personally when you don't talk for a while.

"Amigas, Cheetahs, Friends for life" — Cheetah Girls

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Free Yourself Of Toxic Situationships, You Owe It To Yourself

Those relationships where you aren't really friends but you aren't really dating, either, can be harmful to your self-image, so let them go.

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With the rise of hookup culture, the hearts of old souls, like myself, get broken time and time again. The casual dynamics that start off completely harmless either end abruptly or fizzle out with no closure. I'm the kind of person that needs to have a label for everything in my life. Labeling is a coping skill of mine. Being able to identify what something actually is with a word helps me deal with it and feel better about it.

Not even a year ago, I broke up with someone who started off as my best friend and claimed we would have a serious future together. His actions did not meet his words and I realize all the hurt he caused me was because of narcissistic personality disorder. I spent the following five months in therapy, feeling and grieving, not only the relationship but also the experiences I missed out on, the people I never met but could have had I not been with him, as well as the pain I caused my loved ones staying in the relationship.

Bottom line, it took a lot of time for me to even begin feeling like my true self again. As I started becoming more and more comfortable in my own skin again, gaining confidence in my ability to perform well in my classes, as well as taking on leadership roles in my sorority, my self-esteem increased. I had to rebuild it from the bottom up. What matters is that I was actually able to confront my demons and become an even stronger and better version of myself.

As much as it hurts, I'm finally able to identify what I need and what no longer serves me. In these past nine months, there were dynamics that popped up in place of the relationship I had with my ex. We weren't dating, but we also weren't really friends. I kept telling myself that eventually, he would see me for the person I actually am, someone who is sweet, smart, goofy, kind — that he would eventually choose me. Which wasn't really fair to him since he didn't know there even was a choice.

The longer this dynamic continued without any formal closure, the more I started to doubt myself and who I had become, putting the progress I made at risk. I didn't like this person. I didn't like looking in the mirror and feeling worthless because he wouldn't make time to see me or wouldn't text me. It began to hurt. It was no longer fun for me. He broke my heart time and time again, without even realizing it, just how my ex had, and the exes before that one.

I now know that I can't settle for anything less than I deserve. It's easier to say that than it is to actually believe it, but I finally do. I have little patience for those who don't know what they want, mainly because I've finally figured out what I do, and it isn't a situationship. It isn't a casual encounter, a hookup, or a relationship where their words don't match their actions.

I used to care so much about what guys thought about my appearance because it was an insecurity of mine. If they thought I was pretty, then I must be worth something. But that isn't the case anymore, my appearance isn't the standard by which I want to be evaluated. I want those who are interested in me, to see me for who I really am, and that is more than just a pretty face caught in a situationship.

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