Get out of your comfort zone

*This post was written by Anna Dinissuk, a MEd student studying Developmental Psychology and Education.

I’ve been in many situations in my life where I haven’t felt entirely comfortable. It’s difficult for me to do certain things or to take risks. It may not seem that way to some people, but I’m not a naturally adventurous person.

I mentioned that I painted a ceramic piece during an outing with a friend of mine during my last blog post, so I’ll continue using that example here. When I went to The Clay Room with my friend Indie, I had never been in that particular area of Toronto before. I don’t have a very good sense of direction, so I had to turn on Location Services on my IPhone to get to the restaurant we agreed to meet at prior to painting pottery at The Clay Room. I found everything successfully, but this didn’t come naturally to me. The fact that I have a poor sense of direction & may sometimes feel anxious about this doesn’t mean that I should never go anywhere or leave my house.

Before I was hired as an OISE Student Ambassador, I became a volunteer blogger for an organization that promotes mental health awareness called Healthy Minds Canada. I had never blogged for anyone before, but knew that this was a skill I wanted to develop. This helped me get hired as an OISE Student Ambassador much more than my continuing to tutor fellow students would have.

It would have been easier for me to continue my education at York University, where I did my undergraduate degree. I know York very well, and am familiar with various people & support services offered there. I could have easily chosen to do a certificate in something like TESOL or Human Resources Management. There’s a Sheridan College campus near where I live that offers postgraduate certificates with a co-op placement that would have resulted in a definite possibility of my securing a job right after graduation.

I chose to go to OISE instead, because I am committing to broadening my horizons in the field of education. I didn’t want to take the easy way out. Many students at OISE and in general will say that you can’t learn if you’re never made to feel uncomfortable. I agree with this sentiment. It’s harder for me to go to a larger university as a graduate student, but I have access to more resources & career opportunities as a result.

In my Foundations of Human Development and Education course, students have to write online weekly discussion board postings on various topics of interest. Sounds easy, right? It would be, except for the fact that what’s written needs to be backed up by research & cited correctly. It’s more difficult than just sharing your opinion on a topic, but having these requirements makes for a more thoughtful & informed online discussion. In my Introduction to Special Education & Adaptive Instruction class, we frequently discuss how to effectively work with students who may have behavioral difficulties and/or learn differently. It’s challenging to think critically about how to deal with vulnerable people, but doing so makes everybody in that class a more effective practitioner/policy maker/educator.

Discussing difficult topics, thinking critically, and even doing research is hard. Thankfully, OISE provides a supportive & nurturing environment to help people grow intellectually. I know various international students at OISE, one of who I will be interviewing later on, who have opened my eyes about the difficulties of studying in a completely unfamiliar country. I may not be willing to completely relocate yet, but maybe I will soon. It is only in trying new things that one can truly broaden one’s horizons.