Story of the Week: October 6-October 13th
Step Out of Your Comfort Zone
By Rebecca Mitchell
On a recent sunny, fall day, I traveled to South Burlington to participate in a team building day with this year’s VHCB AmeriCorps members. While the first half of our day was centered around communication and team-building, that afternoon we had the opportunity to participate in a high ropes course. As someone who has a strong fear of heights, the idea of climbing over thirty feet up a tree was more terrifying than exciting. I watched as sets of my fellow AmeriCorps members ascended the catwalk activity. The catwalk involved two partners climbing up two different trees attached by a platform high in the air. The partners then walked from one tree to the other, crossing in the middle. It was an activity that required coordination, focus, clear communication, and courage.
I was comfortable participating in this activity from the ground- as a member of a belay team or stabilizing a ladder for another member. However, I wanted to push myself past my comfort zone. Internally, I rationalized what I would be able to accomplish knowing my level of fear and anxiety. If I was able to climb all the way up to the platform and belay down from the catwalk, I would be satisfied.
With the encouragement of my peers, I donned a helmet, clipped in my harness, and began my ascent. I tried not to think about how scary this situation felt as I climbed up to my platform. Before I knew it, I found myself up a tree, looking across the catwalk at Ashley, my partner for this activity. I was able to slowly but surely walk and meet her in the middle of the catwalk. This achievement surpassed what I had hoped to accomplish, but Ashley encouraged me to push myself even further, and gave me room to cross in front of her and reach the other tree. Both exhilarated and relieved, I belayed back to the ground. While I had originally intended just to climb to the top of the course, I surpassed my own expectations and conquered my fears.
This year, I’m serving with Green Mountain Farm to School, a non-profit located in the rural, northeastern corner of the state. As Nutrition and Agriculture Educator, my days can range from gardening with children, to promoting local foods in school cafeterias and educating the community on nutrition and cooking. Every day brings a new opportunity or challenge, and I enjoy the experience of growing as an educator while also seeing children and adults enjoying and learning from my programming. Many days are long and tiring, but feeling like I’ve made a positive impact in someone’s life makes it all worthwhile.
Serving with AmeriCorps is similar to participating in a ropes course: it takes determination, conviction, and enough courage to step out of your comfort zone. Through this program, I’ve experienced so much personal growth and discovered new passions and professional interests. I’ve found that often the most intimidating or unfamiliar risks reap the greatest sense of self-fulfillment. The next year is sure to be filled with these opportunities, and I’m excited to see where they lead.