Touchdown in the comfort zone

“Sometimes it’s good to step outside your comfort zone.”

It’s that broken record you’ve heard your entire life, from parents, friends, teachers, and just about anyone you’ve ever spoken to. This begs the question: what actually is ‘the comfort zone?’

get outside your comfort zone

Given my background in debating, I thought I’d break down each word:

Comfort – Recliners
Going furniture shopping with my parents used to be an arduous task, until I realised I was in a room full of beds and lounges ready to be tested.

Zone – The in-zone
I don’t watch a whole lot of grid iron, but I do know that to score points you have to throw the ball to a player who runs the ball over the end of the pitch and into the in-zone!

Somehow, I don’t think the people who are always talking about getting out their comfort zone were referring to a sofa on a football pitch, so I took another approach to try and understand this directive… examples of people leaving their comfort zones.

Weirdly, the first thing that comes to mind is the movie She’s The Man. Amanda Bynes wants to play soccer with the boys team at college, so she pretends to be a boy. While the practical legitimacy of this movie can be questioned, it does prove that the protagonist went the extra mile to achieve her dreams.

She's the Man - out of comfort zone

So, how does this apply to university life? Whether you are fresh out of school, back from holidays or just needed a change, university is the chance to reinvent yourself. I’m not saying dress up as a man/woman, but you will find so many people with similar personalities and interests who you can connect with, even as an online student. There’s Harry Potter clubs, sport teams, chocolate appreciation societies, Dungeons and Dragons, and so much more, so get out and do something!

If you are attending university next year and are looking for a way to step out of your comfort zone, I would recommend going to a toga party. There is definitely nothing more uncomfortable than wearing a bed sheet around people you have only just met, but I bet you won’t regret it!

no toga no party - college toga partiesUntil next time,

Dreams start early

As a father and having worked for a number of years in children’s theatre and after-school care, children have often amazed me with the confidence they have in talking about what they are going to be when they grow up. They never say “What I would like to be if this happens or that happens”, or a thousand other qualifications, but simply: “This is what I am going to be”. Sure kids change their minds, some more than others, but the dreams held by a child at a given moment in their lives stay alive as real and achievable goals.

With a little help from my double-trouble twins (OK a lot of help!) we came up with a story as viewed through the eyes of a child, which reflects the above phenomenon – how dreams start and where children believe the dreams will take them.

So what happens along the way to some of us that causes us to forget our dreams or put the dream off until tomorrow. “Tomorrow” – that place of the future where all sorts of wonderful things are going to happen if you ever actually get there? To a child, having a dream turn into reality is as natural as falling asleep, night follows day, eating an apple or a pear, or putting mud on your face. It is a natural expectation for a child that if I say it, I will do it.

So I asked myself “Why did I wait so long to make my first dream come true?” And then I asked myself “Why did I wait so long to move on to the next dream…” (I’ve always been one of those kids that has a lot of dreams) “…knowing that dreams can become reality”. The answer was clear. Unlike a child, I lost confidence in my dreams, so much so that even after achieving one dream I still doubted whether I could turn another dream into a reality. I was afraid of shadows and the shadows returned again – shadows that were no more than tree branches scratching at the windows. Then, as with the first dream, I opened the window, I stepped outside the door, I went beyond my familiar comfort zone, and I started to climb that new tree, the very tree that scared me. And I thought what would have happened to my dreams if I stayed frightened of the shadows, and what would have happened if I didn’t find this new tree to climb. The answer was clear: a different reality would have happened, different to the one I that the child inside of me who dares to dream wants in his life.

At USQ we have the possibilities, the courses, the degrees, the international reputation to help you turn your dreams into reality. And you don’t have to do it all on your own. We have the people to help you negotiate your way through the shadows. Lecturers, librarians, ICT support, Student Relationship Officers, Learning Centre Staff, students, a whole community waiting to work with you toward your dreams. A place where once again you can have the confidence to believe that your dreams are a natural expectation.

This is Lindsay Nicholson, father of three, husband, former lawyer from another life, current USQ Bachelor of Science (Psychology) student, signing off and wishing you happy dreams and prosperous realities. The eye lids are feeling heavy. I think I will go and have a dream. Nighty night…