Foto van drie studenten in een klaslokaal met twee laptops voor zich.
Foto van drie studenten in een klaslokaal met twee laptops voor zich.

The National Day of Discomfort

Your student asks an unexpected question and you don't know the answer, and silence falls. Or a student suffers a complete blackout in front of a packed lecture hall during a presentation. The feeling that then arises is discomfort and can sometimes feel strange. Students Loes (Literature Studies) and Gerson (Spiritual Care) think it's time to let discomfort exist, to explore it and see what can emerge from it. This is why, as part of the Honours Academy course Making your Mark, they are launching the National Day of Discomfort. 'It is a unique awareness-raising event that challenges people to embrace discomfort and be curious about others.'

What is discomfort and how do we deal with it?

Discomfort disrupts social harmony: something in the interaction is not going as expected or hoped and we want to fix this as soon as possible. The discomfort-avoidant chooses to walk away, while the discomfort-solver tries to fix it immediately by, for example, making a joke. "Engaging in uncomfortable situations can sometimes feel strange, but it is exactly in moments of discomfort where there is an opportunity to be curious about the other person and form deeper connections," Gerson and Loes explain.

Discomfort brings you closer together

Loes and Gerson are convinced: by embracing discomfort, we bring people closer together. "Especially through practice," stresses Loes. Gerson concurs and advocates learning to handle and reside in discomfort. They believe that really listening to each other and being open to one another can lead to new encounters and insights. "Collaborating with someone else in your study group can already be an opportunity to start a fun conversation, make a new friend, or even meet your soulmate," the two students say.

What next? 

"Of course, we hope it catches on," say Gerson and Loes. "For now, we have declared 11 June as the Day of Discomfort, but we think it is more about creating awareness than the day itself. We can imagine such a day being integrated into a wellbeing week. Who knows, maybe one day it will really become a whole concept in Nijmegen or the entire Netherlands."

Contact information

Do you have any questions or want to know more about their project? Then contact Loes at loes.wolters [at] (loes[dot]wolters[at]ru[dot]nl).