In ancient times, rites of passage meant more than just getting your freak on at your best friend’s barmitzvah. They were downright horrid traditions that were meant to push you out of your comfort zone. In order to become a man from a boy or woman from a girl, you had to go through one of the most dreadful experiences in your whole life.
A Spartan boy would be forced to abandon his family for Agoge (rigorous training till the age of 18). After the age of 18, the boy would then be instructed to kill a random ass slave (poor bloke) and return in one piece. Here is the twist: if he was detected, he would probably be executed. If he succeeded, he would become a warrior. The Nootka natives of the Vancouver Islands would take a girl who just had her first period into the furthest reaches of the sea and push her off the boat. The girl then had to swim all the way back to the island on her own. As if bleeding from your genitals for the first time wasn’t horrifying enough. These rites of passage were meant to push people way out of their comfort zones and teach them that becoming an adult is no child’s play. After the rites of passages were over, the elders would always tell the newly initiated, “This is only the beginning my sweet summer child. Now the true passage starts." This meant that their lives would become more difficult now because they were now full-fledged adults. In other words, a rite of passage was only a trailer for what was to come. These passages were quite common in the ancient times, because the societies that did not engage in these activities died off. The societies that practiced these strict rites of passage were more tenacious and stress-tolerant, hence making them more prone to survive the harsh conditions they faced. Our current western society doesn’t practise this anymore. It could be argued that going to college, moving out of your parents’ house, losing your virginity, or having your first drink is pretty stressful for a lot of people; but it’s not as stressful and horrific as getting your ass abandoned in a random part of the sea and swimming back to shore without a compass whilst bleeding out of your vagina for the first time. Some people can argue that moving out or losing their virginity isn’t even that big of a deal.
So are we really being pushed out of our comfort zones? Obviously I don’t endorse murder or putting someone in a life threatening situation for the purposes of pushing them out of their comfort zones. But I also don’t endorse putting college students in “safe zones” to protect them from the opinions of different ideologies. College is where you are supposed to challenge your current beliefs in order to change or even improve them by taking knowledge from different angles. Sometimes these angles are from ideologies you might not agree with. If you don’t doubt your own current beliefs here and there, how will you ever improve? It’s uncomfortable to go to a Trudeau speech if you are a Conservative, but you must go there and listen to the points he is making to increase your knowledge. Life isn't black or white. How will you grow if you are always stuck in the same echo chamber all your life? Stepping out of your comfort zone is painfully difficult. Yes, it’s uncomfortable to go to a therapist (basically a stranger) and tell them your whole life story and about your depression. It's uncomfortable to try out different strategies to kick your procrastination problem. It's uncomfortable to start telling the truth when you been lying your whole life. It's uncomfortable to ask out that cute guy in class. But it needs to be done in order to grow and become stronger than before. These incidents could be our own rites of passages. Every one of us has our own different unique lives filled with these little rites of passages. In order to improve our lives and mental wellbeing we must go through them. So what makes you uncomfortable? What is your rite of passage?