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4 minutes reading time (705 words)

For Tade Kotyan, break out of your comfort zone

AHS graduation speeches

Tade Kotyan, president of the Student Council, an Arlington High School speaker on June 4, 2022.

Good afternoon everyone. Congratulations class of 2022 for making it through a whole two and a half years of high school. I want to start by acknowledging all of the seniors who have worked so hard to get to this point and would also like to thank all the teachers and staff who have helped us along the way. 

Every year across the country thousands of people stand on stage and have the privilege of giving a speech to a graduating class. Thank you guys for providing me with that honor. 

Yes Theory

While writing this, I struggled to think of ways to keep my speech original. The one idea that kept coming to my mind was a short yet extremely impactful saying that I heard from a YouTube group called Yes Theory. The phrase “Seek Discomfort” is the motto that this group lives by as they create content and inspire people across the globe. How does one define discomfort? Discomfort can be described using the following generic definition: To make uncomfortable or uneasy.  

Our past few years have been full of moments of discomfort. We have experienced many first days of school. We have experienced being quarantined due to Covid. And, just this year, we have experienced the transition to a new school as the old buildings are being torn down. Every day that we have spent in this high school, we have been exposed to moments of discomfort. Yet, we have always adapted in the face of these discomforts, and, more often than not,  we have benefited from them.

Finding a definition for what discomfort means was easy. However, finding a proper definition for the act of “seeking discomfort” was a bit more challenging. I then turned to members of the Yes Theory community to get a better understanding of what they believe seeking discomfort means. I was given this definition:

"Seeking Discomfort means getting out of your comfort zone as often as possible so that you can be a stronger and more experienced version of yourself."

This description offers a good synopsis of what seeking discomfort is, but it doesn’t grant the best explanation for why people should choose to pursue it. Another member of the community provided this definition, which I find to be much more motivating: 

“Comfort is what we know. Comfort is what we have always lived by. Comfort is the cage we build around ourselves. To me seeking discomfort is freeing ourselves from the prison of fear. To me, it is asking questions and learning because what we know, compared to what’s out there is very little. It is trying new things for the sake of learning.”

Our cage

This definition of seeking discomfort sums up our time in high school well. Arlington High School has acted as our cage: It has been a constant in our lives for the last four years, a place with set schedules, familiar faces, and many safety nets to fall back on when we make mistakes. However, as we leave our incredible years here behind, we will each be confronted with new opportunities to seek out and tackle more discomforts in life.

Whether it be moving away for the first time, starting a new job, making new friends, or attending a new school, we all will be starting a fresh chapter in our lives, one with new challenges and many moments of fear and unease. It is my hope that each of us will take every opportunity to embrace the act of breaking out of our comfort zone as we face the many new challenges that lie ahead. I realize it might be hard to tackle the moments that take us outside our comfort zone, but I can guarantee that when you do it will benefit you as you continue to grow as an individual. 

But before you go and begin to break out of the cages in your life, I would like to thank you for your time and once again say congratulations to the class of 2022.


This expression of opinion at the 2022 Arlington High School commencement was published Monday, June 6, 2022.

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