Meet Joe Tinker, a Junior in Psychology and the newly elected student body Vice President of Kansas State University. While it’s impossible to describe Joe in a few sentences… His ability to quote the Office on cue and his dedication to cheering on all KSU sports are just a few of his unique qualities. His influence on students at K-State comes down to his genuine care about us as individuals and as a student body. I owe many of my accomplishments to Joe’s support and encouragement. I can honestly say, I know he’s going to be a life-long friend. In this guest blog, Joe writes about the true meaning of what the K-State family is, friendship. I encourage you to read his testament to what K-State is truly about. -Cajsa
“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
Today’s society has waged a war on the individual. It stresses conformity over self-expression. This philosophy is perpetuated by the socially constructed safety area that we call the “Comfort Zone”. The comfort zone is a dangerous place that the world has devised to avoid any sort of conflict or rocking of the boat. It strips us of all of the qualities that make us unique while preaching compliance above all. It is a sanctuary for mediocrity; a refuge that you can go where you’ll never fail and never grow. It’s scary to think that some people live under this shelter their entire lives and lack the courage to live out their true mission. The truth is, you were not made to live in the comfort zone. You were made to radiate to others the greatness that lies deep inside of you.
The comfort zone manifests itself as something different to everybody. To some, it may be avoiding that inner voice that we know is right but lack the courage to follow and accept the difficult but positive change that it will bring. To others, the comfort zone is a mask that we put on to hide our true self from the world. Nobody wants to be the weird kid in the room, so we fabricate a false identity in order to fit in. Think of someone that you think is “weird.” Are they not just being their true selves? How can we judge someone who deeply knows their personal mission and cares little about conformist worldly expectations?
“People won’t like me if they get to know the real me,” we reason. We hide our true strengths from others because we are worried about what others will think if they ever truly knew us. Courageous is the person who knows this fact yet still chooses to be themselves. We need to realize that nothing will ever work better for us than being exactly who we were made to be. You can’t be someone else, because they are already taken. Life begins when you let go of the false identity you constructed for yourself and allow the fiery passion that lies deep within to lead you to a wellspring of true and perpetual happiness.
If you are worried about what people will think of the real you, then it’s time to re-evaluate who you are with. Surround yourself with people that identify qualities in you that you don’t even see yourself- both positive and negative- and are willing to tell you them. I’m so fortunate to have met such authentic and sincere individuals at K-State that I get to call my true friends. These are the people that ask the tough questions, refuse to accept mediocrity, and push you to your absolute breaking point because they know your potential. Someone who suppresses your natural strengths and is disinterested in your passions is not someone worthy of knowing the real you. A “friend” who always tells you just what you want to hear is not a friend. There is no room for the comfort zone in true friendship. True friendship is emotionally exhausting and just downright painful at times. And it should be this way- as it is through these grueling struggles that we come to know ourself and flourish into the leader that we were created to be. It has been the highest privilege to spend quality time with the friends that I’ve made at K-State, and I am forever indebted to their selfless example of character and affection.
Joseph Campbell says, “We must be willing to let go of the life we had planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” Today is the day you release yourself from the chains that are holding you back. Today is the day that you refuse the mediocrity that society offers.
Today is the day that your new life begins. Embrace it.
EMAW, Joe Tinker