Shut up and grow up. My commitment to find joy

Posted on Wednesday, Dec 14, 2016

"As a student at Texas A&M University, I am committing to never being comfortable.” 

Little known fact: Lazy people are generally happy withCain_Picture2.jpg their lives. Why? Because they never step out of their comfort zone. Well known fact: the comfort zone is comfortable. Why? Because there is no rejection, there is no risk and you usually make it home for dinner. Now, do yourself a favor and step outside your comfort zone. Once you’ve stepped outside your comfort zone, turn around and destroy it. I mean absolutely obliterate it to the point where you forget where your comfort zone even used to be.

 At this point, you are probably sitting there with one of two mindsets. One: “Why would I deliberately put myself in uncomfortable situations? That is literally the opposite of what I want to do.” or Two: “Yes, I know stepping out of my comfort zone is good for me. Tell me something new.” In response to both mindsets, I say, because you want to find joy in life instead of happiness and more than that, your life is not your own. Now, at this point you may stop reading and I wouldn’t blame you because saying ‘your life is not your own’ sounds like some rambling from a philosophy major (no offense philosophy majors). However, I urge you to continue reading.

Firstly, what do I mean by choose joy over happiness? Happiness is shallow and temporary, joy is deep and fulfilling. To illustrate, cookies make me happy and cookies with milk make me very happy. However, it’s temporary and usually followed by a stomach ache after I pound a couple sleeves of Oreos in a single sitting. Conversely, graduating from undergrad brought me joy. The difference between the two is while both made me happy, graduating took work. I struggled at times, pushed myself and achieved something that was difficult. It would have been much easier to stay at home in Ft. Worth and work at the Walmart across the street (no offense Walmart). To make my point, happiness is easy and fleeting. Joy is sustaining and earned through hard work.

Secondly, your life is not your own. What I mean is that you don’t walk through this life alone. We all have families; parents, siblings, spouses and if you get lucky in this life (literally and figuratively), you may end up having the privilege to raise a son or daughter. Your life touches everyone around you and the legacy you leave behind impacts those closest to you. Now, moving into the more solemn part of my point, imagine yourself on your deathbed, surrounded by your loved ones. How are they looking at you? For my own life, I want them to look at me and be filled with respect, with admiration and with sorrow; not just because a family relation is about to pass, but because the world is losing a great man. Now you may be thinking, “Jeez this guy is self-absorbed; take it easy on the delusions of grandeur.” This couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s not necessary to be the next President of the United States or the next Mother Teresa to move those around you, what it does take is hard work and the desire to be the best version of yourself. How am I supposed to do this you ask? You guessed it, stepping out of your comfort zone. There is no better way to do that than telling yourself to grow the hell up and do things that push you. Take chances and pursue opportunities that challenge you. Not just for yourself, but for your family as well because when they look you in the face, you want them to see a role model, a pillar of the family and you want your son or daughter to look you in the face and think to themselves, “I want to be like you.”

This is my commitment, to not pursue the things that leave me empty, but to pursue the challenging things that bring me joy and to always be mindful of the impact of my decisions. I make this commitment not just for myself, but for those around me as well. Additionally, as Aggies, this is how we lead the future, by taking control of our own lives, accepting the responsibility that entails and setting an example for those to follow. Easy in theory, harder in practice. Are you up for it?

Stephen Cain 
U.S. Commercial Service, London