As a student-athlete, you possess an intrinsic ability to push yourself beyond physical boundaries in practice and in competition. Without pushing your body to a level of discomfort, you will never fully maximize your performance ability. It’s the challenge of discomfort that grows and develops you into a great student-athlete. The same idea holds true in your development socially, academically and professionally. Pushing yourself beyond your physical comfort zone may come naturally, but stepping out of the student-athlete bubble to expand your friend group, experience new opportunities, or join an academic club may intimidate you. There are several reasons why you should strive to challenge yourself in this regard.
- The more you make yourself step out of your social comfort zone, the easier it becomes to do it again. This skill will take you far in business settings especially if you choose a career that is based on your ability to network. For introverts, the thought of introducing yourself to a stranger may be daunting, but it will become less difficult the more you do it.
- By extending your social circle beyond athletics, you increase your knowledge of the world around you. Even if someone appears similar to you on the outside, we each come with our own unique background that we can share with others. We see the world from a different perspective when we hear others’ stories.
- Stepping out of your comfort zone will protect you from becoming stagnant in routine. If we constantly walk in the same patterns, we may never consider a new (and possibly) better way of doing things. Through interactions with others, you may gain insights into experiences and career options you would have otherwise never have considered.
- If we’re honest, many of us stay in our circle of friends because we’re afraid others won’t accept us. Many of us don’t take on responsibilities in group projects or claim school as our first priority because we’re afraid of performing poorly. As a student-athlete at Georgia, you’re confident in your athletic ability; however, academic or professional confidence is something else. Take ownership and don’t be intimidated. You will be surprise how well your transferable skills translate into other areas.
We’ve established reasons why, but how is the real question.
- Start small. For example, introduce yourself to the person you sit next to everyday in class but don’t actually know his/her name. Cultivate relationships outside of athletics.
- Seek out a challenge. By choosing the unknown you wish to tackle, you will have a more positive and hopeful outlook on the situation. A little anxiety helps us to achieve things we never thought possible.
- Join a club on campus. Organized social settings makes meeting people outside of your sport and athletics less awkward.
- Interpret why you don’t want to try something new or why you feel uncomfortable with people not in your current social circle. Understanding the why, helps us to overcome what is really holding us back.
- Accept that the worst thing that could happen is you may fail at your attempt. That’s OKAY! Failure helps us grow in a different way. Without risking failure, we risk not learning.
- Enjoy! Savor the experience of trying something unknown or meeting someone new.