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How I Gained Self-Reliance

David Dong, Grade 11
Everyone has their own comfort zone. Stepping out of the comfort zone can greatly help you to succeed. Back home, food was prepared by my parents. If my clothes were dirty, I would throw them into the washer and they would appear in my closet after few days, clean and neatly folded. I hardly made my bed (not because I don’t know how to, just because I was too lazy). I must admit that for most of my life back at home, I relied on my parents. This is where I was stuck: in my comfort zone.
I hadn’t been to an English-speaking country before coming to Canada. When I first came to Stanstead College, one of the prefects, Eric Wang, was my tour guide. After listening to his introduction about the school while walking around campus, I was moved by the enthusiasm shown by teachers and students. There were many sports and entertainment activities being held. Finally, I made the choice to become a Spartan.
In the beginning, I thought I was ready for the challenge, but I was not. I was forced to step further out of my comfort zone. All of a sudden, I had to make my bed, clean up my room every morning before I left. As my laundry bag was becoming fuller each day, I couldn’t continue to ignore it. On specific days, I learned to drop off my laundry or put it in the washer and fold it by myself when it was done. Life without the help of my parents was tough.
However, it benefitted me in some ways. For example, it helped me get rid of the habit of being a picky eater. Back in China, whenever the lunch at school did not suit my taste, I just decided not to eat and waited until I got home. However, in Canada, even if I didn’t like the food in the cafeteria, I would still finish my plate as there was nothing else that I can eat.
The experience during school also differed from China. I’ve never been surrounded by so many foreign students. Before I came to Stanstead, I was a student at a bilingual school in Shanghai, China. When I say “bilingual,” I mean I spoke Mandarin all the time except during English class or while having a conversation with my English teacher. At Stanstead, speaking Mandarin most of the time was replaced by English. I remember once, I tried to speak English to one of my classmates, but I suddenly forgot how to say the word. It was so embarrassing that I wished the conversation hadn’t happened. Later on, I realized I could not run away from these obstacles, so I began to overcome these difficulties by talking to teachers more frequently, asking questions about what was covered in class or through normal conversation. Eventually, during group activities, I communicated with my group members more often to express my ideas and state my opinion. Gradually, I felt no sense of embarrassment while talking to others in English, I felt confident, relaxed, just like when I speak Mandarin.
You can also be in your comfort zone during study. Back in China, I would always hear, “David, have you done your homework?” “David, you can only watch TV after you finish your homework!” However, at school, I always postponed doing my homework until right before the due date, as no one was rushing me, which usually caused me to have an excessive amount of homework on any given day. With time passing by and the report card that was inevitably unbearable to see, I realized that I should pay attention to my disorganized ways. If there is nobody around to tell me when to study, I have to be the one to manage myself. Therefore, whenever I have a long-term project or work to do, I always finish it during my scheduled time. And more importantly, do not feel any shame to ask questions, be prepared for every quiz, test, and exam.
Life at Stanstead has so far been a meaningful experience. Stepping out of your comfort zone not only means doing something you do not like to do, but most importantly challenging yourself. Becoming organized or studying harder are just a small part of it. There are many more things for you to explore. Everything deserves a try. If you do not try, you will never succeed. No one ever wants to be uncomfortable, but only those who are willing to face their challenges and fears have a greater chance to fulfill their dreams.