Don’t Limit Your Challenges, Challenge Your Limits

Posted on Monday, Jul 22, 2019

The moments in which I have developed the most are the ones that placed me in unfamiliar situations. I was uncomfortable when I left my small high school of 300 students to attend a university of around 70,000, but I dove in and became part of a community that took me to new heights.

I was extremely nervous in the spring semester of my freshman year when I boarded my first plane to travel to Costa Rica for an A&M service/learning trip. Since then, I’ve traveled to 10 additional countries and have committed to attaining fluency in Spanish.

I was overwhelmed during my first internship in Santiago, Chile where I was left largely to my own devices to navigate a new city, job, life, and culture for 3 months and 5,000 miles from home. Through that experience I learned the importance of cultural awareness and how to be adaptable in difficult situations.

Now, in Spain for my PPIP internship, I expected the experience to be easier because I had already interned abroad. However, while I felt comfortable being away from home, I was not comfortable with the unforeseen challenges that this experience would provide.

After an entire college career of believing that I knew exactly what I wanted to do after graduation, this internship showed me that my interests were not completely satisfied by a public servant position with the U.S. government. At this point I had two choices; Pursue the path that I’ve been working at for three years or find something that better fits my passion. One path was familiar and the other was an unexplored space.

I reflected on my life thus far and was able to recognize that stepping out of my comfort zone always enabled me to experience the greatest degree of self-development. The question I asked myself was: “why should this time be any different?”.

With a looming graduation date, it seemed wrong to not yet have my life planned out. It felt as it I was setting myself up for failure. I wanted to discourage myself from stepping off the career path that I knew so well because I had already come “so far” in my mind. But the true failure would be to avoid the challenge of finding where my passions could best be utilized just because it would be a challenge.

Sure, there is a timeline on obtaining a degree but that doesn’t mean there is a timeline to plan the future. The future is too unpredictable and the only certainly lies in the guarantee of trials in life. You can take these challenges by the horns and see where they take you, or you can avoid them and remain “comfortable”. For me, I refuse to limit my challenges when I could challenge my limits instead.

Dylan Manshack
U.S. Commercial Service
Madrid, Spain | summer 2019