“Stay in your comfort zone and everything will be alright.”
That was what I used to think since stepping out of it would mean change, and change is scary and unpredictable. But I had it all wrong, as I realised escaping my comfort zone is one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life.
My name is Liew Kwan Jet, I’m 18 years old, a proud Taylorian who’s currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Accounting and Finance at Taylor’s University, and this is my journey about how I transformed myself from being shy and reserved to an extrovert.
Back in my high school, I was a shy and introverted student who thought that in order to avoid problems or confrontations, it’s better to stay low and quiet so that I could ‘stay safe’ within my comfort zone. I did not take part in any extracurricular activities in my school, just to stay away from getting into any embarrassing moments or worse, criticisms.
The only reason I even had the slightest involvement in any events or co-curricular activities, was either because they were compulsory or I was pressured by my teachers. Other than that, I showed no interest in any clubs or societies and concentrated solely on my studies, treating school as merely a place for academic purposes.
Not only was I inactive in extracurricular activities, but I was also passive when it comes to socialising with others as well. I felt anxious being in social situations, like outings or gatherings with friends, and felt more comfortable being alone instead. I couldn’t fit into conversations with my classmates nor was I interested in them. My life was all about studying in school and then coming home to study yet again. I did feel lonely at times but I got used to the feeling to even care.
After obtaining my IGCSE results, I felt happy for getting remarkable results — 8 straights As. Somehow, I felt that focusing on studies alone wasn’t enough and wouldn’t make me a happier nor better person. A period of self-reflection followed during the free months I had before I began my Foundation In Business in January at Taylor’s College.
I started thinking about how my life had been so far and asked myself a variety of questions. “Am I happy with how things are currently?”, “Is this what you want Kwan Jet?”, “Why be the same, when you can be different?” These thoughts opened my eyes and I realised that things cannot stay the way they were and change is necessary. I wanted to be a better person and live life to the fullest.
I decided that the first thing I needed to do is to get out of my comfort zone and try to be more outgoing and sociable. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy considering I’ve been running away from social interaction my whole life. However, I was determined to change and it was now or never.
I entered Taylor’s with all of my courage and confidence, determined to turn over a new leaf, and managed to make a ton of new friends on the first day. All it took was a little push to approach others, say a simple greeting and, just like that, I made a friend. True, there were instances where others did not return the friendly gesture or keep the conversation going, but that wasn’t going to stop me from making more friends.
Life never felt better. I was actually having fun, playing, eating, and laughing with others. Whenever I encountered difficulties, I was no longer alone and had friends to back me up along my new journey at Taylor’s.
Meeting these cool and fun group of friends was a great confidence boost for me and that was when I decided to counter the next obstacle I had in high school — being active in extracurricular activities. I started by joining one of Taylor’s clubs which I was passionate about being a part of, the Community Service Initiatives (CSI) Club. Besides being given the chance to help others through voluntary activities, I met more people to interact with. It felt really good knowing that I could learn new skills, make new friends, and explore new experiences while helping others. It was addictive.
From then on, my hunger for exploring new activities escalated, joining even more clubs and societies such as the Nature Club, Rotaract Club, and Taylor’s Community, making more and more friends along this journey. I couldn’t believe I kept myself from experiencing these back in my high school days. Nevertheless, I kept my head high and moved forward as I can’t change the past, but I can determine my future. This new Kwan Jet is a breath of fresh air compared to whom I was previously, and I’m loving every single second of it. There are times where the endeavour to explore new experiences and make new friends can be tiring. But, knowing that I'm on a journey of self-improvement motivates me to keep going!
All in all, I believe life is full of great experiences and opportunities for you to explore. Though it feels safe to be in your comfort zone, staying in the same place will only hold you back. All it takes is a little push to get your engine started and a new journey awaits. You can start by learning to build confidence in yourself especially when you’re faced with new experiences in life.
Also, don’t be afraid to embarrass yourself as you might regret all the shots you didn’t take in life. In fact, I was quite nervous when I applied to be one of The Risers’ ambassadors but here I am, happier than ever to be part of a wonderful initiative and having the privilege to tell you about my life. Thank you so much for reading this article, and I hope you enjoyed my story of how I became an extrovert.