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In my first blog, I touched on how I’ve been pushed out of my comfort zone on this trip, the first time being on a hike up Lion’s Head mountain. At first, I was very adamant on not going and made it clear to almost everyone in my group. But of course, my roommate gave me that push to go. And so I did.

While I didn’t particularly enjoy the hike, it wasn’t the worst thing ever, and I was proud afterwards that I did it. This is the case with many of the other times I’ve been pushed out of my comfort zone – I may not do some things again, but I’m glad that I’ve done them. After all, I’m only in South Africa for a limited time and have to make the most of my experience here.

One instance where I was probably pushed to the brink was at work. The Employment Access Programme (EAP) at Scalabrini, which I am an intern for this summer, has a Computer Literacy course that they teach every few weeks that an intern must run. Again, I was adamant on not teaching it for a couple of reasons:

1) I thought I was extremely unqualified. I had never taught anything a day in my life (not even tutoring) and I was really scared that I would be a terrible teacher. I honestly just felt like I would ruin the class.
2) I had heard a couple of horror stories about the class – computers not working, students not listening, etc. These stories just put the class in a bad light.
3) Sheer stubbornness. When I make a decision, I almost always stick with it, and I thought I would be able to do that in this situation.

I almost got by without teaching it – the last class that I would be fully present for had already been assigned to another intern who had taught it before. But of course, I didn’t get away that easily. The other intern had to go to a talk, so she was going to miss the first class and needed someone to fill in. Another EAP intern, who had also taught the class before, had a doctor’s appointment during the class, so she couldn’t teach it either. The only person left to teach was me.

I tried to argue it at first. I talked about my reasons above, but to no avail. The EAP director was not having it and insisted I would be fine. An EAP supervisor gave me an instructor’s guide for the class and sent me on my way. It was at that point that it sunk in – I was going to teach this class, and there was nothing I could say that would change that.

My nerves were on 10,000 before the class. I truly thought I was going to crash and burn into a fiery death once I opened my mouth. I even almost cried beforehand; the pressure to do well, from myself and others, was just too much for me to handle at that moment.

Despite my almost-breakdown, everything turned out great. My students seemed to take to me well (or they didn’t show otherwise), and that eased my nerves greatly. By the end of the class, I was comfortable with talking to them all and teaching the material. One of my coworkers even told me that I had the best teaching style for the class out of the ones she’d seen, which made me feel so proud of myself. Once again, I was pushed out of my comfort zone, and didn’t regret it.

This moment was special for me for many reasons, but most of all I learned how to become comfortable in the uncomfortable. This experience taught me that while it may not be very pleasing at first, getting outside of my own head and doing things I wouldn’t normally do can be quite rewarding. I’ve always heard the phrase “You can do anything you set your mind to,” and now I finally believe it. I just have to trust that I can, and find comfort outside of my comfort zone.