Moments that Change My Life 2: Getting Out of My Comfort Zone

I always believe that discomfort is the key of learning. I’ve started believing this since I was in college, studying cognitive psychology. In that class, I learned that when new information is absorbed by our brain, we try to match the information with the schema that we’ve had. The new information may fit well, or we need to adjust our schemas to receive the information, integrating it with the knowledge we’ve had. And this process causes change. This process causes discomfort. This is called cognitive dissonance.

I believe that this cognitive dissonance is actually good, which makes me think that the whole discomfort feeling may actually be the sign of change and improvements. Getting more and more aware of ourselves, sometimes it is inevitable to feel that change and learning is not fun because of this uncomfortable feeling, which makes people not willing to learn. Working in an education setting, I see a lot of students with great potential, but lack of the ability to feel uncomfortable, the humility, and the curiosity. The first one I’ve discussed in the previous paragraph. The second one, humility, is a very interesting topic.

The know-it-all person. With the height of technology use and wide access of information, our generation is very susceptible to be the know-it-all people. Without critical thinking ability and humility, I think everyone may eventually stop learning. Why? Because they think that they know everything. I truly believe that another aspect that can support one’s improvement and learning is humility; knowing that we don’t know everything. I’d discussed this too in one of my writing: And arrogance is a very dangerous thing for students that hinders them from actually learning. I saw this a lot, especially with the more advanced and intelligent students. Being humble doesn’t only mean that we seek for further knowledge, but also that we are open to feedback and other people’s perspectives.

The second aspect leads to the third one, which is curiosity. I think curiosity is human nature. Everyone is born with curiosity and the ability to explore the world. One thing, back to square one again; is that one may diminish his curiosity because he is not willing to be uncomfortable. Trial and error requires someone to fail, which is not fun! Getting to know new people may exhaust us, which may also not fun! And all those “negative” consequences of trying new things sometimes prevent us from learning and from improving ourselves.

Getting out of my comfort zone is actually the key of my learning. I don’t know with other people, but I am always aware that learning and improving are not always fun. I try to think the challenges as something that can increase my capacity, and when I fail, better try next time. I am also very aware that getting out of the comfort zone is not easy. I need to push myself to do it, even if it is only online courses or trying new food recipe. However, the biggest opportunity to get out of my comfort zone was when I had to live far away from home, alone. “Merantau”, Indonesian people said. It has become a philosophy for some Indonesian people, which actually teaches a lot of life lessons.

How do I feel right now? Am I comfortable enough that I stop learning? Hmmm… maybe I am too used to this environment that I am living in? I don’t know. I still feel that I have a little bit room to explore, but maybe not for long. Maybe I need to find another area to pursue? Maybe I need to get out of my comfort zone, soon.