Back in June, I had my first ever “annual review” in a job. As I discussed my feelings about settling in over the last 6 months and the challenges I’d found within the role and setting of working in a psychiatric hospital; I realised that I partly applied for this role in order to be challenged.
This sparked a few thoughts on my redefinition journey; how I applied for my first ever job knowing it would be doing three things I found difficult and agreed to give two presentations at conferences as part of a volunteering job.
From those experiences, I think a part of me had realised that I need to ease myself into working in mental health on the level and scale I’ll (hopefully) be working with clients when I look into graduate positions. So I applied to work in a psychiatric hospital; going onto the wards and speaking to people who are so unwell they cannot function in the outside world.
Back in 2010, I had this realisation that I had a comfort zone.
And unless I did something to stretch and push it; that would be a limiting factor for my life.
I know that I’ll be challenged in ‘the real world’, thus I’ve been aiming to stretch my comfort zone, and moving ever-closer to my potential. This calls for preparation, long thought processes, calm decision making… and sometimes it involves jumping in feet first before I can talk myself out of it.
Even the more “fun” or “mundane” aspects of life require this constant pushing against my zone edges.
Comfort Zone, Meet My Fears
Last night was my leaving do for a project I’ve worked with for over 2.5 years. We went to Lazer Zone. (Basically run around in the dark shooting at people with lazer guns and getting points for accurate shots and trying not to be shot yourself). Similarly, my student house has been empty for nearly four weeks now; just me living here.
- I am afraid of the dark
- I hate sudden noises mixed with silence (just don’t like to be shocked)
- I have a lot of anxiety in general
- I used to HATE tag and hide and seek at school because of my fears
- I have a history of panic attacks in claustrophobic situations
- I live in a dodgy area and you could easily get into the back garden
I choose to suggest lazer zone because I’ve done it once before and was fine. I know there are help buttons around the place, I knew the layout from last time and I had two close colleagues with me. I actually paired up with one of them, even though we were all individually being scored; I asked to co-operate with her so I wasn’t alone for the full 20-minutes.
I’ve learned that I need to push my barriers if I’m ever going to get over these fears. However, I also know how important it is to invent my own support and to ensure I have all my systems in place in case it’s too much for me.
Choices and Changes
This is especially important to me now; as I’m about to step off a well-lit path of student life and into the real world. And let me tell you, for someone who has never even had a part time job (all my work is casual 2-5 hours a week), the real world is scary.
I am suddenly facing the choice many young people in the Western world have already made: as a majority of people leave the path at an earlier point – when they feel educated enough and ready to get into work.
I’ve suddenly just reached the end of the damn path; and I want to stay on it. But the tracks end here.
Each time I was offered the chance to leave there was a nicely lit path still ahead of me, from school to college to university, to post-graduate study… I could leave, but I also had the option to stay on it – with the next step mapped out for me.
At 16 you leave school and can go to college.
At 18 you leave college and can go to university.
At 21 you leave your undergraduate course at university and can go on to postgraduate study.
I turn 22 in August and complete my postgraduate course.
And I am shitting bricks.
Thinking back to my views on challenges, this feels so far out of my comfort zone that I don’t feel ready.
I am not a business-driven woman. I do not care about a career, climbing any ladder or getting out to the real world. In fact, the latter idea terrifies me somewhat.
So I’m sitting here in the middle of my Masters dissertation with three job applications waiting to be completed. And I’m wondering what systems of support I can offer myself in this situation.
Following the 6-month review back in June, I realised that I can see myself doing any job if it means I get to stay inBrighton, to keep working with these people, to have some income and to remain with my friends. And I’d be able to contribute to knowledge and skills in an area I’ve become interested in and to make a difference to people; while being in an area of the country that supports my spiritual and social development.
Sometimes, it’s important to remember what our values really are. Not to walk the path expected of us or to turn away when the road ends; but to walk across the dirt and create a new path forward.
Are you content with the size of your comfort zone?
What systems of support could you use to stretch it?
And something I’m most interested in:
How did you find the transition from learning into work?
– Rose –