My Comfort Zone

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Stepping outside of my comfort zone is not something I relish doing. However, it’s something I’m almost always really glad I did. As I mentioned, this semester I am beginning my Practicum experience requirement (100 hours) for my Master’s degree. I accepted a position at a school for children and adolescents with emotional and behavioral disturbances that require them to be at least temporarily removed from public schools.

Last Wednesday, I met with my supervising Practicum professor and my on-site supervisor. I was quakin’ in my boots at the prospect of beginning my first real counseling experience — until my on-site supervisor informed me that I’ll be working with the younger children, some of whom have autism. I love working with individuals with autism. My mind immediately flashed to my interview for my internship at the Faison School in 2010. That experience was perhaps the farthest I have ever stepped outside of my comfort zone; I had never before worked with children with autism, nor did I know what the hell I was supposed to be doing. And yet, I survived… and re-applied for two additional summers. And loved every minute of it. If a = b and b = c, then a equals… I can survive this, too!

This morning, when my alarm rudely awakened me at 6:55, I was immediately nervous about beginning Practicum. Then, I checked my email and the news. Due to freezing rain — and this being the state of Virginia, which causes people to compulsively close or delay the schools, as well as forget how to drive, the moment the skies darken — I was asked to arrive at 10:30 instead of 9:00. That relaxed me a bit. Unfortunately, I was awake 3 hours before I needed to be out the door, but it gave me a few extra minutes to linger in a hot shower. I had enough time to drink an extra cup of coffee, pack my lunch without haste, dress and style my hair (which would have been wet had I left at 8:20 instead of 9:55), and even read a few more of the 87 pages assigned in my Tuesday class. Okay, truth be told, I also had time to watch one-and-a-half episodes of Boy Meets World while I got things done around the apartment 😉

With all that unexpected time, I arrived at the school 20 minutes early, relaxed, alert, and prepared. And I had a wonderful first day! It really helped my anxiety that my on-site supervisor is so laid-back and encouraging of self-directedness. She was super flexible about the time and duration of my lunch break, and she encouraged me to simply observe today, to watch and listen without taking detailed notes and to start getting to know the peculiarities of such a unique environment. For the first day of a new “job,” I could not have been more far-removed from my comfort zone; and yet, I felt so genuinely comfortable in my own skin. I think it just goes to show that when I don’t build things up in my head, they aren’t ever as anxiety-producing as I’m anticipating. I’m truly looking forward to going back on Thursday!

Question: What takes you entirely out of your comfort zone? Like or dislike trying new things?

[Thursday — 234g carbohydrates (hoorah for quinoa!), 32g fiber (RDV reached!), 55g protein (RDV reached!), and 28g fat. Friday through Sunday, I did not keep tabs of my nutrition intake due to traveling, unavailability (i.e. Ian cooked dinner Saturday night), and meals eaten at restaurants. The experience of tabulating my nutrition intake without tabulating calories consumed is certainly proving to be interesting.]

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