Step outside your comfort zone

I’m not sure what influenced me to take a chance with Data Structures, formerly Computer Science II, after having such a miserable time in Computer Science I. Why couldn’t I program? I ended up spending my entire summer break trying to answer that question, relearning Computer Science I material, insisting that I take (and under-stand) Data Structures.

I learned three things from this experience. First, there is a reason to step out of your comfort zone. I was never one to try it, since I was perfectly content with the path I was traveling on. I also never took rejection well, and not doing well in a course was just another form of rejection for me. If I had to take the course, I’d live with it, struggling throughout the semester, with a sad, but surprisingly satisfied feeling after the semester had ended; however, if I didn’t have to take the course, I usually didn’t.

That was a big mistake, and it took me two years to realize it. I had the chance to try something new freshman year, but I stopped, turned around, and continued down the most familiar path. It took me a while to gather up the courage to return to something that I hadn’t even looked at. I went back to finish what I had started.

The step was a necessary one, I learned how to take on goals that two years ago, I would have thought to be “out of my league.” I prepared myself, both academically and emotionally, for the stress I knew would incur. However, I made sure, with the help of close friends, to never forget the value of relaxation, sleep, time-spent-not-stressing. I learned that if for whatever reason I felt the workload was too much, or that I could potentially hurt myself while trying to achieve my chosen goal, I could stop, and that it’s okay to stop. I can try next time.

So, keep in mind that it’s fine to look into courses that are outside of your comfort zone, remembering that pass/no-credit isn’t just for hard courses, it’s also to allow you to try new things and set new goals, without being penalized. It took me two years to realize this, and I hope my experience helps those who read this to realize it sooner.

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