If I took anything away from high school geometry, it’s this: The circle is more complicated than I ever would care to know. I’m serious, it’s remarkable. A shape that starts and ends in the same place. If you were to walk in a circle, you would never be able to get lost. Of course, this doesn’t stop confused first-years wandering D-Hall in search of the dish return.
Last summer, I went bungee jumping in Greece. Under normal circumstances, I would never have agreed to do this, but I’d made a deal with myself. I wasn’t going to leave Greece without doing something bold. I told myself that plenty of people had done this before and no matter how scared I was, I was going to do it. After signing many, many waivers (so many that I started to become concerned about the success rate of the establishment) they led me down the step out into the Corinth Canal. I watched as the wind shook the narrow metal bridge that separated the 170 feet of open air below me and my feet. I was scared out of my mind. After a quick safety check, I was ready to go. Someone slapped a GoPro onto my wrist, and they led me to the edge. I was told ahead of time that they wouldn’t, and couldn’t, push me. It was going to be my choice to leave the safety of the bridge. So, I did it. I jumped off the bridge into the open air.
So how does this connect to circles? Let me explain: Think of the circle as a sphere of control, a place where you feel comfortable. The nature of the sphere keeps you stuck in place and lost in its endlessness. At that moment, my circle was the solid Greek ground. I was comfortable staying sheltered and safe on two feet. The decision to bungee jump off the bridge was the hardest choice of my life. It’s truly difficult to commit to an action like that. But something crazy happened the moment my momentum took me: On my initial jump, I was screaming and panicking; nothing to this day can compare to that feeling. However, as the cord first caught my weight and swung me back up, I felt safe. I had survived the fall, now I could enjoy the rest of the time spent flying. After I literally jumped out of my circle, my life changed. As they pulled me back up, I remember exclaiming to the GoPro something about feeling I had conquered the earth.
Some people can spend their whole lives in a circle that only grows slowly. If you never leave the circle, you never grow, and you’ll never learn. If you step outside of your circle, the worst that can happen is a return to the circle. History is doomed to repeat itself if you don’t make a change. Nothing will change in the circle, that’s why you like it inside there. So, let’s all learn to be uncomfortable in safe uncertainty. You will never escape uncertainty in life, it will always be in front of you. The most growth happens when you escape and let your momentum take you. No, don’t escape the circle. Break the circle.