I was born and raised in an extremely small and rural community. Both of my parents were teachers. My mom is an elementary teacher at the only school in the school district and was my Kindergarten and First Grade teacher. My dad taught middle school and high school at my high school’s rival school and when he retired, he was a substitute teacher at my high school and I routinely had him as my sub in high school. Growing up, I would usually ride to school with my mom or my sister when she was old enough to drive. Many of the teachers and staff at the school have known me since I was born. I was right in my comfort zone growing up through high school.
When it came to my decision as to where I’d attend college, I had applied to multiple places, all in the state of Oregon, but the University of Oregon, a school only 25 minutes from home, was always at the top of my list. My sister had attended UO, my parents both had degrees and had met while at UO, and several other family members had attended and obtained degrees from the University. When I chose to attend the University of Oregon, I was still very much in my comfort zone. I went home almost every weekend and didn’t branch out of where I was comfortable.
Ever since I was little, I knew that I wanted to work in the field of sports. I didn’t know what exactly I wanted to do, but I was sure that it HAD to involve sports in some way. As I advanced farther into college I realized that I didn’t know what I wanted to do, not an uncommon story for people my age. I was content just going with the flow and I figured something would eventually work out and I’d get a job somewhere close to home in the field of sports and I’d be happy. If you had asked 18-20-year-old Bailey if I would be obtaining my master’s degree in the state of Michigan, I would have laughed in your face. Comfortable is the word I would use to describe myself at that time.
Around the time of my 21st birthday, something changed. There wasn’t a singular event, there was no aha moment, rather an accumulation of moments and opportunities that I was lucky enough to experience. Some of these experiences were through friends, others through my on-campus job, and others from family. All of these experiences led to me feeling the need to experience something new, find something fresh, and creating my path. As I began looking for opportunities to branch out, I identified graduate school as a potential avenue to do so.
My on-campus job at the University of Oregon was at the Student Recreation Center. I met my closest friends from college through that job and that’s where the idea of graduate school became more of a reality. Those friends and multiple supervisors that I had were instrumental in me being comfortable enough to reach out for those opportunities outside of my comfort zone. The idea of traveling across the country to attend graduate school something that I was nerve-racking but incredibly exciting. In the past, this would have been an idea that I would have said was great, but pushed it into the back of my brain to forget about. Instead, I found myself sending in applications and interviewing for graduate assistant positions at schools in the southeast, midwest, etc.
Upon graduation, I had not only solidified a graduate assistant position at Central Michigan University, a quick 33-hour drive from home, but I had also obtained a summer internship at the University of California – Los Angeles (UCLA). I graduated on a Monday, was down in Los Angeles the next day and flew/drove straight to Mt. Pleasant, Michigan as soon as the internship was over. I had never spent more than a vacation’s amount of time away from the 30-mile radius I was born and raised in and suddenly I have lived outside of the state for over a year and a half now. I spent the summer of 2018 in Los Angeles, the school year in Michigan, the summer of 2019 just north of Austin, TX at another internship, and now am finishing up my second year in my master’s program this coming May.
I realize that this is not a groundbreaking story in terms of moving away from home to go to college and many people do it earlier in their lives than I did, but I tell this story to share how important it is to get out of your comfort zone. The personal and professional growth I have had since moving from Oregon has been tremendous. The relationships that I have made and continue to make since moving from Oregon are some of the closest relationships I have in my life. I have continued to travel to new states and experience new things and I have only become better as a person for it.
While I miss Oregon, the people that are there, both family and friends, are what I miss the most. I have visited home a few times since moving away and always enjoy my time there. However, those people are why I feel so comfortable so far from home. My parents were both apprehensive about me moving so far away for graduate school. They never told me, but I could just tell. Never once did they say where I could and couldn’t go to school and never once did they make me feel bad for any of my decisions. Without them, my sister, my aunt, and my friends I would never have been able to come across the country and be as comfortable with being uncomfortable as I am right now.
No matter what point you are in life and no matter what you think your limitations are, I would highly encourage anybody to get out of their comfort zone and experience something new. This doesn’t necessarily mean move across the country. This doesn’t mean doing something drastic. This means recognizing that you are comfortable in what you are doing day to day, seeing and taking those opportunities, even if they are small, to branch out. Those who are truly your friends and family will support you, they will check-in on you, and they will never let you settle for being just comfortable and content with where you are in your life.
Contributor Writer Bailey Adams is originally from Oregon, but is currently a graduate student at Central Michigan University, working in the University Recreation department as the graduate assistant for intramural sports. He enjoys spending time with family and friends, sports, and a love for dogs. Bailey was nominated to share his story about the importance of getting out of your comfort zone.
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