Comfort Zones and Comfort Foods

Posted on Wednesday, Jul 31, 2019

A cornerstone of the ‘Aggies Commit’ ideal is that each Aggie should be the kind of person who is capable of continual, lifelong learning. This stipulation resonates with me; I have been hitting the ‘random’ button on Wikipedia and reading on since a very young age. The idea of lifelong learning is, however, more complex than that. It includes a willingness to push your limits, to accept and value criticism, and an ability to let different opinions add richness to your perspective, rather than agitate it.

In this spirit, when my supervisor asked me to step out of my academic/professional comfort  zone, I complied. She assigned me two projects; to design my own study abroad program from the bottom up, and code a bit of their website. The former sounded like an interesting task while the latter sounded alarming, frankly. With a determinedly cheerful assent, I vowed to erase ‘Basic JavaScript and HTML Experience’ from my skills section as soon as I could. As it happens, the project management task makes me feel like every passing second erodes a piece of my will to live. On the other hand, I enjoy coding! There’s a fair bit of problem solving, artfulness, and satisfaction involved with the process. I alternate between thrilling victory and utter despondency quite regularly, which is just enough excitement to keep me entertained.

So now I know! Project management, which sounded like something I’d be totally capable of, turns out to be something I couldn’t (wouldn’t?) do if someone threatened my life over it! On the other hand, I find coding, which seemed so out of my league at first, kind of fun. I’m counting this as a net win. I picked up a new skill, discarded one I know that someday I’ll have to outsource, and I reward myself after long days of project management with ice cream. I think this qualifies as the happiest intersection between commitment to learning new things and self-care.

Catherine Whitten
Centre International de Formation Européenne
Berlin, Germany | summer 2019