Ignoring comfort zone important for personal growth

by Associate Sports Editor Justin Jefferies

As my time as an undergraduate at UNA winds down, I reflect back on my insecurities and reservations I had as a freshman. Not only was I the worst public speaker in the entire Department of Health, Physical Education and Recreation, but I also ranked near the bottom in writing.

As I became more comfortable with my professors, I opened up to new ideas and ways of learning. Being young and overly exuberant, I had previously rejected any method of learning I deemed “unhelpful.”

As I developed as a student and matured as a professional, I began to understand the underlying issue of what college is about. The History of Western Civilization and Pre-Calculus Algebra classes are not part of the curriculum in order to waste our time and money.

They were put into place in order for us to open our minds to new ideas and adaptations of how we should approach our future career.

Fast forward to early March of this year. My former youth league basketball standout player and protégé “Magic” Mike Ezekiel casually mentioned to me the idea of becoming the new sports editor for The Flor-Ala.

Having stressed over even the simplest of writing assignments previously, I did not give the idea much thought.

In 2007 when I coached Mike, I was sure that coaching basketball would be my career, and writing or journalism was the last thing on my mind.

However, I quickly reminded myself not to dismiss opportunities over the fear of being uncomfortable. I have changed, and I want to be an example for future students with self-doubt. Trying new things and falling short is not the same thing as failure.

As a huge comic book fan and collector, I referred back to my youngest days of watching my favorite super heroes take down the bad guys.

Even at 27 years old, I catch myself thinking about the strategies and characteristics these heroes possessed that caught my attention.

After many years of not taking risks and closing my mind to new and unique ideas, I turned to the wisdom and perseverance of these heroes for guidance on my collegiate experience.

One of my favorite movie quotes of all time is Mr. Wayne reminding a young Bruce the importance of falling.

“Why do we fall down, Bruce?”

Bruce reluctantly replies, “So we can get back up.”

The power behind those words inspired me to dig deeper and explore the idea of writing without fear of failure. I don’t focus on how many times I mess up, but rather turn my attention to how I can make a difference.

I encourage all those who have reservations and those who question new concepts to open their minds and be willing to try new things. Just because you have a set plan does not mean you should close off different ideas.

Christian Bale’s portrayal of Bruce Wayne in “Batman Begins” became a motto for me to live by.

“It’s not who I am underneath, but what I do that defines me,” he said.

Try a new drink, join a new club and do things the 40-year-old version of you will not be able to do. Do not accept your destiny. Alter it.