New day (or week...month...year), new opportunities. You've probably heard some variation on this phrase or seen some meme around it more often than you can count. And while it's true that opportunities abound at any moment, there is no question that certain times of year feel "newer." Back-to-school is one of those times no matter what season of life you find yourself in.
In one of my past seasons of life, I worked with a fitness company that had the motto, "Always be a student." In a completely different season, I taught early childhood music and movement and one of our mantras was, "Get curious, not furious." This common theme of seeking knowledge, and approaching foreign, confusing, or challenging experiences with a growth mindset continues to resonate with me. Especially because in my current season of life I am parenting two young adults, plus I have the privilege of working with more than 200 students of all ages every week. In these roles, I spend a lot of time encouraging folks to get out of their comfort zone.
But why? Why does getting out of one's comfort zone matter? I believe that one of the truest ways we connect to each other as human beings is through shared experiences, and there isn't a much more universally shared experience than that of being in a foreign, confusing, or challenging situation. For many of us, though, as we grow older, we find ourselves in these situations with less and less frequency. We perfect how to serve and protect our own comfort zone. We forget how to learn new things - how to be a student, be curious. Thus, it becomes more challenging not only to establish new human connections, but to nurture existing connections with those who may be in a different season of life than us.
Enter the fall, the back-to-school season, and a golden opportunity to try something new! I recommend one of our adult classes in ballet, tap, or hip hop. A no-pressure way to learn a new skill, boost endorphins, and reignite the learning parts of your brain. Best of all, you will be surrounded by people who are just as far outside of their comfort zone as you are! Then the next time you find yourself needing to connect with someone trying to grow or learn (a child, partner, colleague, neighbor), you will have renewed empathy for their experience, and the ability to deepen your connection with that person. Plus, you'll have some great new party tricks!