From the early years of my life, I only saw how my parents, relatives and everybody around me were trying to get comfortable in life and remain in their comfort zone for as long as they could. Families rarely moved to new homes or areas even for new job offers. Most of the people in the country where I was born kept the jobs they were assigned following college or university graduation. Change was not an option even if they were unhappy. That is my Soviet Union childhood perception. Don’t take it the wrong way, it was good and it was stable. But what really struck me upon my arrival in North America is how free people were. Living here for 12 years now, I realize that freedom comes from within. The biggest freedom confiner is the sense of safety within the comfort zone and the uncertainty outside it.
Who likes being uncomfortable? This fresh tingling feeling on your back slowly wraps around you all the way to your chest where something heavy drops down. This is how I know I am on the edge of my comfort zone and it’s time to take some actions and push myself in the arms of my fear to embrace the freedom. Of course, I am not talking about putting on wingsuit and jumping off the cliff without proper training. This action has to be taken in baby steps. The other day, I was hesitant to join the GlycoNet Trainee Association Executive Committee. I was worried about being one of the leaders, writing a blog, being responsible for a trivia night and being in the spotlight. I realized that this is where I have to be – in my uncomfortable zone. It will help me grow, confront my fears and help me be that much more free.
Change is always painful, but besides growing bigger as a person you give yourself the most valuable present of them all – you give yourself freedom. Freedom from the person you were yesterday, freedom from the limits you have placed on yourself, freedom from the dark voices that lower your self worth. Whomever you are, recognise the edge of your comfort zone and DO push yourself a bit further as there is nothing more painful than being stuck where you no longer want to be. Freedom comes at a high price, but it is worth the fight!
Alena Pratasouskaya is a M.Sc. Chemistry candidate supervised by Geoff Horsman, Wilfrid Laurier University. Alena has served as vice-chair of GlycoNet Trainee Association in 2017-2018. She is a recipient of Ontario Graduate Scholarship 2017-2018 and GlycoNet Advance Training Opportunity Program (ATOP) 2018-2019.