Lean into discomfort

by Abby Nye      

Wouldn’t it be nice to know what’s coming before it comes? The Boy Scouts do say, the number one rule is to always be prepared. Then again, if we knew everything that would happen before it did, we would have no journey to reflect on. We become wise and resilient when we are confronted with challenges. I would say one of the most universally challenging times is the first year on your own.

Coming to college was one of the most overwhelming experiences for me. I can recall the nerves before moving in, and the panic if anything went slightly awry. There were so many people that I didn’t know and excitement that felt smothering. I quickly felt like I was drowning in a whole new world alone. It seemed as though everyone else had this “college” thing handled.

I struggled with making friends and feeling like the relationships I had were genuine. I felt as though I was out of the loop somehow, working to be a part of this new time of life that came so easily to others. My family will attest to many tearful phone calls home wondering if I was doing something wrong or if life on my own wasn’t meant for me.

Discomfort is not an emotion we accept easily. In fact, it is probably the one we try to push away the most, and yet it always finds its way back. I recently got a call from a friend who is a first-year student in college. She was distressed and upset and I found myself regressing into that mindset I had when I was in her place. She felt so lonely and insecure, sure that there was absolutely no remedy to this horrific discomfort.

Moments like these are what I can thank discomfort for. I was able to remind my friend about the exact same phone calls I made to her when I felt this way, reminding her that she was not the only one who was experiencing this emotional storm. Triumph does not come from an easy journey. You cannot make it up the mountain if you haven’t first walked through the valley.

As it turns out, this independent style of life has been something I’ve grown into well. Despite my doubts, I found a group of friends that were caring, loyal and real. When I found these friends, each of us admitted to being completely overwhelmed during our first semester in college. How I wished that I could go back in time knowing this so that I could seek these friends out. Yet, it was because we each felt scared and doubtful that we found each other in the first place.

My hope is that anyone who is experiencing this kind of discomfort will be able to remind themselves that this is a seasonal emotion. Maybe it’s not your first time with discomfort. Maybe it’s your second, or third or even fourth. Maybe you’re terrified to graduate and face the discomfort of change ahead of you.

Remind yourself that you have experienced this before, and you’re not alone in it. Take the discomfort and let it be transformative. You never know when you’ll get the call from someone who you can identify with. It’s an incredibly difficult thing to go through and we are never rewarded with a “good job” for making it through. Consider this my “good job” to you.

Contact Abby at anye19@my.whitworth.edu