Pushing limits and overstepping boundaries


Photo by Grace McGuire

Story by Amanda Garmon, staff writer

Fluttering butterflies. Heart pounding. Many “what ifs” asked one after another, piling up. Overwhelmed with racing thoughts:

What if they don’t like me?

What if it’s too much for me to take in?

What if I fail and disappoint myself?

Taking a step out of your comfort zone is a step towards success. However, it can be tough to make the step. Maybe you’ve joined a club or organization in order to challenge yourself. The nerves that come with it are inevitable, especially if you hold your comfort zone very dear to you, in the same way you hold your most prized possession close.

You avoid anything that appears as if it would interfere with what you are already comfortable with. You let your comfort zone dictate all aspects of your life: the people you talk to, the classes you take, the get-togethers you talk yourself out of going to. It controls you. It leads all of your decisions.

Your comfort zone is part of you.

You’re trapped inside of your own box.

Entering into room 50 on July 17, 2017 was a step “out of my box.” It wasn’t easy at the beginning.

Easiness, to me, is staying at home, on the couch or in my bedroom, away from anything other than technology and my family.

Easiness is deciding not to do something that looks like it would cause me anxiety or discomfort, such as refraining from talking to a new student to befriend them because I’m afraid of their judgement.

Easiness is my default. I move towards what makes me feel “safe.”

I reluctantly got out of my mom’s car that afternoon to walk to the Newspaper classroom for boot camp: four hours of each day, for three days, used to prepare the newbies and the editors of Tiger Times for the upcoming school year. I pursed my lips as I walked down the hallway.

I recalled the first day I saw the environment at Texas High in the fall of my sophomore year. I remembered how the large amount of people roaming around the giant campus made me feel inferior for the first few weeks. I wanted to hide in a hole.

Making my way to boot camp, I was about to enter into a new – somewhat terrifying – chapter of my life. Much like I was starting sophomore year, I felt like a nervous wreck.

I am very stand-offish. I’m insecure and anxious. I typically don’t communicate with people unless they initiate conversation first. Going into this, knowing that I would have to speak more, triggered an uneasiness in my gut.

To try to hold my composure, I took deep breaths and reassured myself that everything I was about to get into would be for the best. I would make friends (potentially life-long ones), and I would learn more about myself.

Still wide-eyed, apprehensive and shaking in my boots, I walked down the hallway and entered in, all eyes on me. I was thinking very low of myself. I was convincing myself that I cannot do this, I can’t succeed. I’ll let myself and others down.

After a few minutes of trying to get to know each other better, we were shown glimpses of what the school year would be like. I felt like backing away immediately. I thought about the deadlines I’d need to make, the interviews I would have to do. I thought about how shy and unprepared I am.

We, the newbies, were asked a few times if the newness was scaring us. I raised my hand only a few inches. I doubted my potential. Things around me caused me to panic.

I felt intimidated. I felt powerless.

After all of the new material was shown to us, some of which I still cannot remember, it was time to leave. We left on a good note, but, even after that, I still felt like I didn’t belong and that I’m too different from everyone else.

That evening, I came very close to giving up and letting go of the dedication I already put in when I volunteered. I wanted to take this opportunity in front of me to get to write, but the new information being thrown at me scared me. I doubted if I was going to be able to survive junior year (but everyone knows junior year is hard in itself).

This is almost embarrassing to say, but I was dreading the next day… a lot.

The newness of the people and atmosphere caught me very off-guard. I felt like everyone else there had it together, and I did not. I felt like I wouldn’t be an asset to the staff.

Luckily, the sun was shining by the next day of boot camp.

My perspective on this newness changed. I felt more relaxed. I felt less tense and intimidated. I found a couple of people whom I’d already known from the previous school year and stuck beside them. I met a handful of others that I noticed I had things in common with. I realized that I’m going to get to express my opinions and show my personality through the stories I would write. That brought me a lot of excitement.

The added amount of details being thrown at me this time did still scare me, but instead of feeling intimidated, I began to feel ready to take on being a part of the staff.

I desperately want to show people the real Amanda, and getting to expose more of who I am through Tiger Times is something I look forward to doing.

On the last day, I got to experience my first Newspaper paint war. I smiled more and I laughed more. The hope in my heart for an amazing year was all over my face. The worry was vanishing.

When everything was over that evening, I got into my mom’s car, covered in multicolored paint as if I was clothed in it, a huge grin beaming on my face. My attitude after the first day differed drastically from my newfound positive outlook I had after the last one.

Tiger Times will be a challenge, no doubt. I’m going to do things that I never had imagined possible for myself. I’m going to have to communicate more with people I don’t know. I’m going to have to put myself out there more, become less of an introvert and fix my eyes on trying to go beyond my comfort zone.

I’m going to be forced to get out of the box I have lived in all of my life.

Even so, challenges are okay. Being pushed to do things you’re not necessarily comfortable doing can be healthy for you and allow you to grow.

You’ll be more open. You’ll discover that not everyone will like you, and that’s okay. You’ll come to realize that you cannot let your comfort zone keep hindering you from opportunities in which you’ll get to use your passions.

You don’t want to give something up that could be so much fun and confidence building for you, only to remain trapped in your box, locked in your jail cell.

Create new beginnings. Let go of the overbearing fear of what other people may think of you and get out there.

Take a step out of your box.