GROWING BEYOND YOUR COMFORT ZONE
By: Autumn Adia
At the beginning of the summer I stopped by the farmer's market on my school's campus to pick up some potted herbs for my kitchen. As an aspiring green thumb with much to learn I had lots of questions. I asked the man at the counter about the rosemary I was hoping to purchase. He told me that the most important thing was that I put it in a larger pot as soon as possible. If I didn't, he warned, "it will die because the roots will continue to grow, but they won't have enough room to allow them to flourish." I got the plant home and put it in a slightly(emphasis on slightly) larger pot on the kitchen counter. I thought the plant would be fine for the time being.
In the meantime, I went on to complete my fifth year at my summer job. In the past I have always come out of the role feeling that I've grown professionally. I've left each summer with a sense of hope and anticipation for the school year ahead of me. But this year was different. It was draining in a way I hadn't experienced before. The hours seemed longer. The summer days seemed bleaker. And the learning seemed lesser. Still, I plowed through, somehow convincing myself that the work I was doing would eventually be meaningful for someone if not for myself.
Halfway through summer I returned home to Maryland to find our plant was not where I had left it. When I asked my cousin (who is also my roommate) what happened she explained that the plant had died, so she threw it out. In that moment I thought about the words of the man behind the counter: "if you don't repot it in a larger pot, it will die because the roots will continue to grow, but they won't have enough room to allow them to flourish." I had suffocated our plant.
At the start of the week I returned to my summer job hoping to find some new sense of renewal, but I was greeted with the same exasperation that was there when I left that Friday. When it was finally time to close out for the summer, I left as early as possible and didn't look back. I arrived at my parents' house at 10:32 a.m. the first day I was allowed to leave and slept for approximately fourteen hours. I didn't remember ever exerting enough energy to be this tired, but my body told me it needed rest.
Here I am a week after having finished my fifth year in that role. I'm laying on my parents' patio, staring up at the trees and the sky and I'm reminded of the rosemary. For the third time this summer, the man's words ring in my ears: "it will die because the roots will continue to grow, but they won't have enough room to allow them to flourish."
In the same way the plant was suffocated because its environment had become too small to contain its growth, I allowed my fierce commitment to a job - specifically, my history of overwhelming success, the financial stability it offers, and the relationships I have built with coworkers in the past - to stifle my growth. That's not to say I'm not thankful for the growth the job has allowed me in the past. Like the plant, I needed the security of a smaller, safer-feeling environment to nurture the initial legs of my journey. However, as I grew and the role did not, it began to cause a tension and discomfort that only comes from being confined to circumstances smaller than your potential.
Although I don't know exactly what lies ahead (I said exactly because I believe that completely throwing caution to the wind would be foolish. Plans are important.), I am confident in the fact that I am working towards taking the first steps beyond my comfort zone to allow space for new and undiscovered life and beauty. I'm embracing this new pot and all of its space for activities and trusting God to open the doors he sees as the best fit for me as He grows me beyond my comfort zone.
Autumn is not a carefree Black girl, although, she hopes that one day she will be able to be. Autumn holds more degrees than your president and is more qualified than your secretary of education. She is a lifelong educator who loves and believes in the potential of Black and Brown children, especially girls. Autumn is currently pursuing her doctoral degree and would love advice on what to do next with her life. Follow her on twitter @AutumnAdia; follow the blog @ReadBlackademia.