When I came into college in August of 2016, I already had a pretty good idea of what clubs I was going to join and who my friends would be. I didn’t know who my roommate would be or what classes I’d be good at, but I did know how I was going to spend my free time.
My older sister graduated from Carolina the semester before I began. During her four years, I became extremely familiar with the UNC campus. I went to eight semesters of Blank Canvas Dance Company recitals and knew the day I enrolled that I would join BCDC the moment I could.
One of my best friends from my high school dance studio was two years older than me and went to Carolina when I was a junior. Words couldn’t describe how excited I was to finally get to see her again on more than just holidays and the occasional weekend.
When I got to campus in the Fall, things went exactly as I thought they would. I joined Blank Canvas and immediately fell into my older friend’s group. I felt like I had a home and a family at UNC without really having to go out of my way to establish one, I guess you could say I really lucked out on that part.
Anyone that knew me before college would have been 0% surprised to hear what I got involved in outside of my coursework. Growing up, dance was everything. I started classes when I was three years old and was competing by age six. Even my high school job was related, I was an assistant instructor at my studio.
College is supposed to be the time where you explore and try new things, but instead I stuck with something I was already extremely comfortable with. While my suitemates were trying out for the rowing team and meeting new people in their classes, I was living a life very similar to the one I lead a few months ago, I just moved a few miles North.
College survival tip #4: It’s okay to stay in your comfort zone, knowing your passions and staying true to yourself is equally admirable.
In reality, choosing to keep up my hobby of dance wasn’t me staying inside my comfort zone at all. Yes, it may have been a sport I was familiar with, but it was in a totally different setting and there were new things to be learned from every rehearsal.
I think it’s a little unrealistic for people to demand students to break outside of their comfort zone the moment they start their undergraduate careers. Being in college is enough of a change, there’s nothing wrong with students grasping on to part of their old life for a little bit of comfort and consistency.
A lot about my high school self is very different from who I am today, but I didn’t have to go through a major personality shift to get here. I simply defined my path and grew from a place where I had already set my roots.
In my past four years, I have since joined yet another dance company, Carolina Tap Ensemble, and became president of the organization my junior year. This may not have been a move too far out of my ‘comfort zone’, but it has taught me a lot outside of just dance. It’s taught me about leadership and provided me an outlet where I can make a difference and leave a legacy for future dancers at Carolina.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t try new things and seek out different perspectives, but I am saying that it’s okay if you want to stay in your lane and excel at something. Going out of your comfort zone may be a worthy accomplishment, but staying true to your brand deserves some recognition too.