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Leaving The Comfort Zone: Max Saltzman’s Senior Column

A message to my younger self, freshman, sophomores, juniors, seniors, and anyone else reading this.

Life, like college, is all about pushing boundaries. So for my final effort with Onward State, before I step into real life, I thought it would be fitting for it to not be a video. If you’re an avid reader of our blog, you’re probably wondering who I am. Fair question, because I’m the video guy, and I’ve only made videos since joining Onward State. Here is my inaugural — and final — attempt at writing.

Coming from a very populated area of the country (New Jersey) to State College, PA, which for me feels like a small city in the middle of nowhere, was pushing a boundary. Not playing varsity soccer in high school and walking onto a D3 soccer team was pushing a boundary. Starting my own business and setting myself up for rejection and failure was pushing a boundary. Traveling almost 3000 miles from home for an internship with a Fortune 50 in Arizona was pushing a boundary. Getting a job in technology consulting but earning a degree in supply chain was pushing a boundary. And while I am not the best writer, that’s exactly why I decided to write this. This is pushing a boundary.

I believe that when you are pushed outside of your comfort zone in life is when you learn the most. This has been a theme in my life and has helped me grow through my four years at one of the greatest schools in the world: Penn State.

It hasn’t always been easy. When you put yourself out there and try to leave your comfort zone, sometimes it doesn’t work out. I’ve been there, too. I’ve failed, I’ve been torn down, lost good friends, been cut from sports teams, ridiculed at pitch competitions, rejected from companies — fallen flat on my face. But I have never given up.

To whomever is reading this, whether the sound of leaving your comfort zone is music to your ears or puts fear in your soul, here is how I cope with leaving mine.

I’ve summed it up into 3 Ps: passion, perseverance, and purpose.

Passion

The ability to turn emotion into action is derived from passion. If you care about something enough here on campus, whether it’s a goal, club, team, relationship, job, or anything, you’ll go out and get it. But passion just isn’t enough. You need perseverance.

Perseverance

It’s easy to be passionate. But when times get tough, it is the ability to overcome that will keep that passion alive. To persevere is to inherently achieve success — whether it’s the goal, or even better, a lesson learned along the way. You need to persevere in classes, extracurriculars, relationships, jobs/internships, and through the trials and tribulations of everyday life while in college. But how do you know it’s all worth it? That’s purpose.

Purpose

The ability to have a goal with intention is powerful. You could be the most passionate person and persevere through the most, but if you lack purpose, it will feel empty. No matter what you attempt to do in life, always think to yourself, “Is this really what I want?” If that means changing your major to make yourself happy and not someone else, do it! If that means going after that crush you met, do it! If that means taking a leap of faith and applying for that dream job/grad school/anything else that’s important to you. DO IT!

College isn’t easy, and trying new things can be daunting, but with the right mindset, anything is possible. I’m not saying these three Ps are the keys to everyone’s success. We are all different. But these happened to work for me, and they could work for you as well.

The moral of all this is that you have four years of college and in these four years there are so many chances to step out of your comfort zone. Have an open mind and give your dreams a chance. And if (and when) you fail, don’t let one decision, rejection, person, grade, job, or semester define who you will eventually be.

With that I leave you with a quote that has hung on my bedroom wall at college:

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

I can surely say that I have sailed far away from my harbor here as a Nittany Lion, and I hope you have too. Upon graduation I will continue to push my boundaries, and step out of my comfort zone, because that is where I am most comfortable.

Thank you to my parents. Words don’t do justice for what you have sacrificed so I can be me.

Thank you to my twin. You are the most supportive, and teach me truly how to make the most of any situation.

Thank you to my family for supporting me and letting me understand what love is.

Thank you to my friends that I’ve met at Penn State. You remove stress from my life (and add some too).

Thank you to my professors and mentors — yes, every professor, even if you thought I was a headache!

Thank you to Onward State for allowing me to be the video guy…and write this one last post.

Finally, thank you to the person that reads this, closes it, and steps into the world and out of their comfort zone, pushing their boundaries to chase their dreams.

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