Staying in the Comfort Zone: My Life and the Life od May in Wolff's In the Garden of the North American Martyrs

I am a person that takes risks, yet most of them lie in my comfort zone. In Tobias Wolff’s short story, “In the Garden of the North American Martyrs,” the main character, Mary, lives a life always trying to blend in with her colleagues and never risks teaching a lecture that is not in the books. She makes it through life to the point where her hearing weakens never escaping her normal routine until freeing up was no longer a risk to take.

However, by the time Mary decides to wing her lecture, the opportunity to receive a job was lost. In many cases of my life, staying in my comfort zone has also limited my opportunities.

The issues faced in the lives of Mary and me stem from having the wrong level of confidence. For Mary, “her own thoughts… shrank to remote, nervous points,” as she increasingly taught the arguments of others rather than her own. This relates to my life as my own opinions in group discussions get crowded out by more extemporaneous speakers and I lose confidence in my thoughts.

Later in the life of Mary, her reduced confidence causes hesitance when she is asked to come up with a lecture off the top of her head; this hesitance took away her opportunity to showcase herself instead of the requirement to read Louise’s article on the Marshall Plan.

My lack of speaking confidence has taken away my chances at becoming the captain of the Science Olympiad team or the vice president of Circle K International—I might have great ideas planning events yet be too timid to share them amongst other speakers.

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While lacking confidence is a problem, having too much confidence also presents negative effects.

Mary had high hopes of receiving the job so she continued to play the game of pleasing others and relying on others’ arguments. This rings true to me with an engineering internship that I was told that even if I do not have many skills, they will find ways to put the skills that I have to use. My confidence was further boosted when there were fewer applicants than positions and that I was told I would get an interview. After my resume was received, I never was contacted for the interview. Having too much confidence in a job caused me to not take time to build lacking skills and look for other work.

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Staying in the Comfort Zone: My Life and the Life od May in Wolff's In the Garden of the North American Martyrs. (2023, Jan 07). Retrieved from

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