This year I pushed myself to live outside of my comfort zone whenever it was safe, and in my best interest to do so. One thing I did that I would have never done in the past—because it was soooo far outside of my comfort zone—was agreeing to join an intramural volleyball team at Nipissing University. In fact, it was so out of character for me to be involved in land-sports that I had to repeat this news three or four times to my friends and family back home before the shock wore off and they finally believed me. I, too, was surprised when I heard the word, “Yes,” fall out of my mouth when my friends at school asked me to join their volleyball team.
And the most surprising part? Not only did I enjoy it so much more than I thought possible, but I also learned that I’m not half-bad! Granted, I still have a lot to learn, but I surpassed any expectation I ever had for myself (which is pretty easy when my expectation was that I’d fail and make a fool of myself). It was amazing how much I improved when I realized simple things, like using two hands instead of relying on my natural reflexes and smacking the ball when it flew in my direction. My team was really supportive, and (normally) incredibly patient with me while I learned, and we always had a blast every game we played. We even made it to the semi-finals before eventually admitting defeat. Being a part of that team was one of the highlights of my year and a memory I will always look back on with immense joy.
Less than a month later, I surprised myself again by agreeing to go paint-balling with my classmates. I am someone who avoids pain at all costs, be it emotional, mental, or physical. Yet, here I was consenting to let people shoot tiny bullets of paint at me… voluntarily. But, low and behold, I had an AMAZING time! Yes, it hurt, but the adrenaline and the tactical aspects of paint-balling were so much fun, I didn’t feel the pain (at least, not until the next day).
This year it was—and still is—my goal to change how I approach, integrate, and deal with changes. Even in my daily life I have started to make different choices in how I view myself, and how I interact with the people around me, both with those I have known, and those who are new additions to my social circles.
Although there are still days where old fears, insecurities, doubts, and anxieties creep in, I am doing my best to fully embrace the small changes in my life, which will hopefully lead to bigger more permanent changes in the future.
I am realizing that the only limitations I have are the ones I put on myself. In the past when the winds of change started to blow my way I would do anything in my power to stop it. I built walls so high, I could not see over them even if I wanted to, and walls so thick that no one could get through them no matter how hard they tried. But I’ve learned the hard way that those walls that I thought were protecting me, were just preventing me from living the life I wanted to live and from being the person I wanted to be.
Now when those same winds of change blow, I think back to this proverb, “When the winds of change blow, some people build walls and others build windmills”. I now do everything in my power to build windmills within myself, to harness these positive changes and use this energy to empower my life, instead of hide from it. It is still a work in progress—I am only human after all—but as long as I build more windmills than walls, I know I am moving in the right direction.
A lot may have changed since September, but one thing that has remained the same is the knowledge that choosing to come to Nipissing University was one of the best decisions I have ever made.