Stepping Out Of My Comfort Zone: Matt Fox’s Senior Column
I’ve never been the type of person who’s fond of change. In fact, I really hate it.
If I had my way, everything would stay exactly the same forever. But as we all know, that’s not how life works.
The first seismic change in my life happened when one of my best friends since I was 7, Mike, left home to join the military. I remember hugging him goodbye and being totally okay. It wouldn’t be until that night, when I laid awake in my bed crying, that the reality of the situation had hit me. My best friend who had lived down the street from me for almost my entire life was no longer a phone call away.
The second life-altering change in my life came when I transferred to Penn State before my junior year of college. My friends and family are extremely important to me, and now they were all three hours away.
My adjustment process took quite a while, and I never felt quite at home. I felt like a fish out of water.
That was until I decided to step out of my comfort zone and make one of the best decisions of my life. I joined Onward State.
This blog gave me a sense of purpose and belonging during my time in college. I also met pretty much all of the friends that I made at Penn State through Onward State. I even met my girlfriend Dana because of the friends I made in the blog.
Stepping out of your comfort zone is one of the hardest things anybody can do. But when you’re able to take the leap and make yourself do it, some of the most amazing things in your life can happen.
The third and most drastic change in my life happened this semester when my Pop-Pop Carl passed away.
My Pop-Pop and I were always incredibly close. Whether it was him babysitting me when I was a child, him coming to my hockey games in high school, or sharing a pint of Guinness just after I turned 21, he always went out of his way to spend time with me.
When I was a little kid, he seemed larger than life. You see, most of the people in my family, including myself, are not very tall. So since my Pop Pop was 5’10” he seemed like a giant to me, and he had the personality to match.
He had a way of controlling a conversation and making his presence felt in the room…not because he wanted the spotlight — his personality was just that magnetic.
We shared plenty of laughs together, as anybody in my family will tell you he was full of witty jokes. He kept his goofiness and positivity right up until his last days.
So once again I decided to step out of my comfort zone. I asked my dad if I could speak at his funeral. After he had spoken to my Mom-Mom along with my aunt and uncles, he asked me if I wanted to read the eulogy.
The weight and responsibility of reading my Pop Pop’s eulogy were not lost on me. Honestly, it terrified me. But I was determined to take this enormous leap out of my comfort zone. From the bottom of my heart, I wanted to try my best to do justice to the life of one of the most amazing men I have ever known.
When I sat down to write the eulogy, I just stared at my blank computer screen for what felt like an eternity. I watched as the cursor continued to blink, almost as if it was taunting me. It’s not that I didn’t have anything to say. I just had absolutely no clue where to begin.
Should I start out talking about his joyful personality or his boisterous laugh?
Should I include a personal story we had together or is that making it about me and not him?
Should I keep it short and to the point or does that make it look like I didn’t know what to say?
If I make it longer, will I just sound like I’m rambling?
These are the questions that whizzed through my mind as I sat there, staring and watching the cursor continue to taunt me until I finally just stopped worrying and started writing.
The funeral itself flew by until it was my turn to walk up and speak. As I approached the stage, I could no longer feel my legs, my palms were cold and sweaty, and I was scared. I was scared that I was going to break down, that I wasn’t going to be able to make it through my speech.
My 10-second walk to the podium felt like an hour. When I got up there, I surprised myself. I made it through the entire speech without a single stutter or stammer.
It wouldn’t be until his casket was walked out of the church that I broke down. I sobbed in my mom’s arms like I would when I was a five-year-old kid.
After the funeral, many of my family members came up to me to tell me how much they enjoyed my eulogy. This prompted another emotional breakdown in my mother’s arms after we got home.
You put a lot of pressure on yourself when you want something to be great from the bottom of your heart. When everybody tells you that it turned out as well as you wanted it to… well, the wave of emotions is indescribable.
Reading that eulogy was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life, but if I had the chance to do it again, I would. I never would have unless I forced myself out of my comfort zone.
Forcing yourself out of your comfort zone is one of the hardest things you can do. But if you don’t, you’ll miss out on some of the best things life has to offer.
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About the Author
Onward State is hiring for the upcoming semester and looking for new folks to join our team and help tell the Penn State story.
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