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My Uncomfort Zone

Grad student and former softball star Marissa Nichols on adopting a winning mindset. Here's some advice she'll share during her UNLV Creates talk.

People  |  Aug 20, 2013  |  By University Communications

Marissa Nichols, graduate athletic academic advisor and former UNLV softball player. (R. Marsh Starks/UNLV Photo Services)

Marissa Nichols, a graduate assistant in the Academic Success Center, will speak at the UNLV Creates program, a series of talks on the importance of creativity, inspiration, and discovery for new college students. The entire campus community is invited to attend the event from 9-11 a.m., Aug. 23 at the Thomas & Mack Center.

Here, Nichols shares some of the lessons she gained since joining UNLV as an undergraduate and member of the UNLV softball team. Today, she is the life skills coordinator for student-athletes and provides academic advising for the women's golf, cheer and dance teams. She received her bachelor's in human services counseling in 2008 and M.Ed. in professional school counseling in 2010. She is also a Ph.D. student in the higher education leadership program.

Becoming Comfortable with the Uncomfortable

There is no way that speaking in front of an audience of thousands is comfortable to me. I wasn't blessed with natural abilities for public speaking or entertainment. But I've made it a goal to be a great speaker, to one day have the ability to spread my message in a meaningful and impactful way. Achieving that takes action, and it has to begin somewhere.

On Friday, UNLV is affording me the opportunity to step into the character of the person I want to be. We must "act as if" and in doing so will become. The things we resist most often turn out to be the very special opportunities that lead to our advancement and discovery of our inherent value. As they say, we must invite what it is we are most afraid of, feel the fear, and do it anyway.

For me, that means taking the opportunity to speak in front of a thousand new students. For incoming freshman, that might mean summoning the courage to ask for help, trying out a new activity in an attempt to discover new abilities, or establishing a rapport with a professor that may lead to a lasting professional relationship.

Embrace the Journey

Each day contributes to our overall development, so we might as well make the very most of it. The experiences I am gaining through a Ph.D. program and fantastic graduate assistantship in Intercollegiate Athletics has pushed me beyond my professional capacity and comfort zone.

One thing I've learned is that no matter our individual goals or paths in life, it truly is all about the process -- even more so than the end result. The culmination of experiences, lessons learned, and personal milestones serve as the foundation -- and when we finally attain that goal, it is simply "icing to the cake," so to speak. And remember, who you have become in the process of achieving your goal can never be taken away from you.

Adopting a Winning Mindset...and the Pursuit is Never-Ending

I truly believe the only limits in life are the ones we impose upon ourselves. We each have the power to decide the lens with which we view ourselves and the world around us. Self-defeating thoughts such as worry, perfectionism, self-doubt, and limiting beliefs do not serve anyone. Positive lenses -- expectancy, gratitude, enthusiasm, and optimism -- give us a great chance to succeed and discover inner fulfillment and happiness.

Our paths are a product of our thought processes and mental attitude. Fueling our minds with the right thoughts is certainly a start on our paths. As the thoughtful creators of our own personal journeys, we have the opportunity to define and construct our experiences. And there are no limitations to what we want for our future selves.

It really comes down to: what are you willing to invest in yourself? After all, it doesn't take any more energy to create a big dream than it does to create a little one.