Seeking Discomfort

Connie ENG'22 | Aerospace Engineering

I distinctly remember the first time trying to navigate my way to an engineering club meeting as I shuffled through the D-wing hallways at 8pm as a freshman. I came to Rutgers equipped with little engineering experience, aside from brief exposure to robotics through my high school’s team. In high school, I spent my time painting murals, trying out for orchestra, and performing in the marching band. I wasn’t the type to tinker with Arduinos and build contraptions in my garage and, to this day, I’m still not.

Let’s just say that I was more than intimidated during my first club meeting. Words such as “exerting a moment” and “attitude controls” were thrown around nonchalantly by upperclassmen, and the gender ratio skew did not help. I felt extremely out of place. I was questioning if I should even come back for the second meeting. The following week, I saw my phone notification light up with a reminder that there is a club meeting. To be honest, for the last thirty minutes, I was preparing myself for this meeting. But when I arrived at the D-wing hallway again, I hid in the bathroom for a good ten minutes before I decided to walk up the stairs and show my face. It would be ideal to say that this anxiety went away immediately, but I found myself giving a mental pep talk week after week.

Nonetheless, I do not regret attending a single meeting.

After every Tuesday evening, I leave the meeting with more knowledge and more insight into Rutgers engineering and what it means to be an engineer as a whole. I would soon realize that becoming a quick learner and being open-minded to new ideas is an incredibly useful and marketable skill to have. With the help of other upperclassmen, I was able to launch a model rocket and make progress for flight programs. I threw myself into the world of engineering, and, in return, it gave me amazing memories, skills, and friends.

Even now, I still find the need to push myself to speak to new people and dive into new experiences. I am reminded that there is no net loss in trying something new or going out of your comfort zone. Even during my internship, I saw how curiosity was always returned with enthusiasm. In my research, I saw how taking initiative and proposing new ideas lead to a rewarding experience.

My experiences have also inspired some ways that I want to lead my current club, Student Transfer Advising and Registration (STAR). I wanted to build a community that actively encourages students to step into the unknown with confidence and make engineering more approachable. Moments of uncertainty and discomfort are amazing windows for growth. Even as an ambassador, I am still constantly learning about how leadership and mentorship go hand in hand, and empowering the next generation of engineers is something that can be done sooner than later.

One of my favorite YouTube channels is YesTheory and their slogan, “Seek Discomfort”, has encouraged me to embrace the feeling of being lost in a new environment, and how to adapt to change and learn from the experience. Whether in college or working in the industry, seek discomfort as it will lead to growth.