OPINION: Leaving the comfort zone has serious benefits


Fernanda Weissbuch

Leaving the comfort zone has serious benefits

By Ethan Sandock

We’re told professionally to leave our comfort zone all the time, but taking that advice into our personal lives can have unbelievable benefits.

As students, we are told time and time again to step out of our comfort zone. And while this is good advice, in order to be the best creatives that we can be, that advice should carry over into our personal lives as well.

Many fall into the trap of bingeing TV shows or books and not leaving our apartments unless forced to. Often when we do venture out, it’s to the same restaurants and bars to see the same bands, while the bar down the street has new music every night.

When my sister moved to Chicago and became a chef, she invited me to visit when I turned 13 as her Bar Mitzvah present to me. At that age, I was a typical shy, scrawny, AV Club kid from Indiana who hadn’t done much in life besides jump between my bedroom and my friends’ houses playing video games and watching movies. I was in no way ready for how foreign of an environment Chicago was to me at the time.

During that weekend, we hung out with other cooks, ate good food and listened to new music. We weren’t going to five-star restaurants; we went to budget-friendly neighborhoods that highlighted diverse foods. The act of going through Chicago’s multitude of neighborhoods and finding new foods with tough, sharp, extroverted strangers was the opposite of everything I had been used to. The effect it had sticks with me even today.

As the next generation of creatives, we owe it to ourselves to be inclusive of the multitude of humans who make up the world. The easiest way to do so is to experience as much as possible. Stop at the corner for a cup of champurrado on your way to work, try that little Polish place you always walk by or go see a local band at the bar down the street. Force yourself to step out farther than normal.

Leaving the comfort zone forces you to have a new normal. Though it may feel anxiety-inducing, the stakes are not really that high. The worst-case scenario is going to some cool new place and trying food you don’t like or not having as much fun as you hoped. In the best case, you discover a new favorite food or local joint that really inspires you.