It’s interesting to ponder how much people rely on their comfort zones. Whether in employment, leisure or education, individuals seem to ‘stick with what they know best’. It’s probably a fair assumption to think this stems from their fear of - or even, in some cases, an inability to act on - change. While I understand the principle of a comfort zone, I also choose to refute it. To declare it a pointless concept is probably a bit of a harsh statement, yet I cannot help but question anyone who would purposefully limit their own (albeit unexplored) capabilities. In education in particular it is nothing short of a paradox.
This week I have to submit my module assignment. I spent the past two weeks completely immersed in Italian football. I am not Italian. I knew very little about the intricacies of Italian football apart from the media-covered string of corruption scandals and maladministration, which I’d judged inherent to the country’s historical background (and which admittedly attracted my interest in the first place). And yet the level of research involved for this single piece of work was what excited me the most.
The chronic loss-making, the ‘footballinization’ of politics, cross-subsidisation, the flattering of finance sheets - if not for self-initiated research I would have admittedly known very little on the topic. Now I consider myself wiser, even if still marginally so. I didn’t choose a completely obscure topic for which I held no particular interest just as I wouldn’t apply for a job that I deemed uninteresting; but at the same time the ‘unknown’ element is what makes the assignment - or the job - worth my commitment and, furthermore, the effort. It’s the opportunity , the prospect of something new that excites us as individuals. (Or that should at any rate)
To me, that is one of the core principles of education - opportunity. Whatever anyone’s reasons for undertaking any particular degree, the deep-seated, underlying motive is to either learn something new, or learn how to do something better. That isn't to say anyone should position themselves in a constant struggle - I'm all for excelling in any topic and am something of a perfectionist myself. But staying in your comfort zone is, in my opinion, boycotting your own potential. (The same can be said about laziness but let’s not go down that route!)
The same can be said about employment - whether you sit in a creative or operational role or anywhere in between, keeping exclusively to what you know best can easily be perceived as a lack of ambition - or even worse, lack of interest. If you're not willing to put in the extra mile and learn something new in the process, why should employers be expected to invest in you? And more importantly, why would you deprive yourself of the opportunity to pick up new skills?
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