By Mary Lesa Pegg, Graduate Recruitment Specialist at UNCG’s Bryan School of Business & Economics
“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”
How do you define a comfort zone? Is it having family within a few miles? A standing 5:00 happy hour with a friend? Involvement in an organization you’re passionate about? Maybe a job you’ve been with for years in a position you’ve worked in since college?
I believe real work is done when you step outside of your comfort zone, which is where my Greensboro story begins.
In May of 2013, I graduated from East Carolina University (Go Pirates!) with a degree in communication. What did I choose to do with my communication degree? I chose to go to graduate school. This is exactly where I found myself on August 19, 2013, sitting in my HED 601 class at UNCG.
I had just moved to a city where I knew absolutely no one and now I was sitting in a class with 22 strangers that could potentially be my new friends. Within just a few weeks, I began to really struggle. During my time at ECU, I was involved in everything: Greek Life, Student Government Association, orientation, homecoming… the list goes on and on. I’ve always enjoyed engaging in the community around me and while I was enjoying my graduate school experience, something was missing.
There was finally a breaking point around November 2013, when I realized something needed to change. Upon marching into my supervisor’s office and bursting into tears, I realized just how alone I felt and how such a big piece of me was missing. After taking some time to listen, my supervisor began to talk about an organization called the Junior League. I had never heard of it, but I decided to give it a try.
Approximately two months later I found myself attending orientation for the organization. They began to go over the mission of the Junior League, explaining that this was an organization of women promoting volunteerism, improving the community and developing leaders. I was sold.
Fast forward to today. Joining the Junior League of Greensboro has opened so many doors for me. I have gained valuable leadership experience by taking on leadership positions. I have connected with members of the community. I have even had the opportunity to join other boards and councils in Greensboro to continue making an impact. In January 2017, I joined the SynerG Young Professional Council. This gave me the opportunity to understand the big picture of Greensboro: everything from the Folk Festival to young professional events to new leadership conferences. I found that the possibilities were endless in Greensboro. Whether you’re looking to socialize, grow as a leader, or volunteer in the community, there will always be a place for you.
When I joined the Junior League, a member spoke to the new group and shared an experience that was similar to the one I was facing. The goal that she set for herself was to not be able to walk into the grocery store without seeing someone she knew. In that moment, I decided to adopt the same goal…
…I went to the grocery store last night and ran into three Greensboro friends. Goal accomplished!
A lot can happen when you push yourself out of your comfort zone. Find a way to engage in the community and you’re bound to make some amazing friendships.