I believe that it is only when we are in uncomfortable situations that we grow and learn. Back in 1987, I was in a Leadership Program in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Leadership GR was a program in which a group of community leaders spent 9 months learning about the various aspects of the community. It was a diverse group: all ages, ethnicities and occupations. I remember clearly one session that dealt with the arts in the community. A comment was made by an African-American member of the group that he never stepped foot in the concert hall to hear the local Symphony. But he loved the few jazz clubs in the area and wished there were more. That led some of the Caucasian members to admit that they had never been to any jazz clubs – didn’t even know any existed. Comments were made that – in both cases – the individuals thought they would be very uncomfortable in the reverse setting. As I left the meeting, a mutual friend and I were talking about how interesting it was that we tend to stay in our own worlds. She said, “I don’t know about you, but I’ve never grown as a person when I was comfortable.” That made me realize that, as I looked back on my life, the times I grew and learned were only the times I was put into uncomfortable, unfamiliar and often difficult situations. I believe that is true FOR all people. We want to avoid the very thing that we need to stretch ourselves and learn. We need to experience the things that are foreign to us in order to understand others and grow in ourselves. So the next time a situation proves to be uncomfortable, know that you will come out of it a better person.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.