I'm writing an essay for medical school applications. Both my parents were physicians, so it is what I was familiar with growing up. Instead of pursuing medicine in college, I decided to pursue something else and try a few different careers after college. Now I'm back on the medicine path and I'm trying to explain why I needed to try other stuff first. I'm hesitant to use the word "comfort zone" because I think it implies that medicine would be the comfortable (i.e., easy) path, when that is not the case. Any other phrases come to mind that explain this sentiment?
closed as primarily opinion-based by MetaEd, Phil Sweet, NVZ, Hellion, TimLymington Jun 24 '16 at 17:24
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I felt I needed to broaden my horizons.
broaden/widen somebody's horizons
to increase the range of things that someone knows about, has experienced, or is able to do
This trip to the Far East has certainly broadened our family's horizons.
In addition to the answer above: stretch myself, learn something new, explore different options, expand myself. I don't know which if any of those would be good for your application, though.
Thing is, I'm certain the person reading your application won't believe that's why you did it (to stretch outside your comfort zone). You tried a different career because you thought you'd like it better than medicine, right? If I were reading the application, I wouldn't be bothered by that, but I might be bothered by someone trying to tell me what he thinks I want to hear rather. However, I'm not an admissions specialist at a medical school, so take that with a grain of salt.