Everyone’s got an opinion about how futile it is to stay in your comfort zone. Motivational careers are centred around the concept of pushing forward, beyond what you are familiar with, to venture into the unknown. That it’s a waste of your talents and time if you don’t move on and break the limits that hold you back from… More limits?

There’s one thing that people somehow forget happens when you eventually step out of the boundaries that have hemmed you in for the longest time: you’ll just be facing another set of them, sometimes as soon as you have just managed to take one step forward. It’s like leveling up in a game, except the boss level never seems to come up and you’re just left gaining more skills and points after each round you clear, wondering when the end will be in sight. And that’s just it; once you’ve achieved your goal, there will always be another challenge to conquer yet another victory.

I grew up in a pretty good school after my elementary years (one of the best in the country at the time, or so people were inclined to believe), and for the longest time I didn’t understand what it meant to truly struggle in my studies. I wasn’t absurdly intelligent, far from it. But concepts were pretty easy for me to grasp, if they didn’t involve numbers or scientific names, at which point my mind would just involuntarily switch off from boredom. Languages were more than doable. Words were child’s play. Exams were a test of how many things I could get my parents to promise to give to me, at which point they had probably realized my nefarious plans and just told me to study so I wouldn’t embarrass them, or anything of that sort.

Sixth form was more difficult, admittedly, if only because my father knew just how easy the essay-based subjects were for me and made me take Mathematics, just so he’d know I’d be studying. And I did. I spent half a year just revising that subject and finally managed to credit it at the end of two years. On the other hand, I spent about a month in total revising for my other subjects and still got higher grades for those.

(There’s a reason I’m currently writing now, instead of being a mathematician somewhere.)

University was kind of a breeze, after I got a hang of things in the first semester. And that’s probably why I broke down from stress in my final year when I did my dissertation.

See, the thing about staying for so long in your comfort zone is that you fail to recognize the fences that surround it; they become part of the scenery after having been embedded in your mind for years upon years. When you finally realize how unhealthy it is to stay cooped up in one place for so long, you’ve lost the key to the gates and the only way out is to completely break down the barriers.

That was one of the longest, most drawn out, painful processes I’ve ever had the displeasure to experience.

Nevertheless, I did all of that, and I’m all the better for it. Because it was through that hellish few months that I finally found the drive that was buried under years of the mundane and the misplaced confidence I had in my abilities. It was by recognizing that one’s comfort zone isn’t meant to be one’s home.

Rather, it’s like being at a train station. Yes, it’s necessary to be there, but only because you’re meant to be on your way to somewhere else. Likewise, there will always be a series of train stations waiting for you to stop by. The question is, are you going to keep hopping on different trains, bringing you further from where you first started, or will you be content with merely a couple of stops, as the rest of the world passes by?