Let me be the first to say that, growing up I was mortified of being out of my comfort zone. I never wanted to go into situations where I wasn’t sure of an outcome. This often stemmed from my social anxiety and fear of the unknown, and it kept me from doing things I wish I had done. I favored every situation where I knew what to expect, and where I would be comfortable. This has followed me in school, work, and even relationships.
When I reflect back on these past experiences, however, I noticed something. Everytime that I worked up the courage, and just thrust myself into these situations; I came out different. While during these situations, I would be freaking out on the inside, nothing bad happened to me. Once I was done, I would notice I was a little more confident. I would almost compare the feeling to how it felt after riding a roller coaster that absolutely terrified me. The anxiety and anticipation prior is very heavy, but when you get off you feel a rush and almost want to do it again!
As a kid one of the most terrifying things to me was presenting something in front of a crowd, or public speaking. I would always try to go last, to postpone the inevitable. Once in front of everyone, I would turn bright red like a blood orange, I would mumble, I would sweat, and worry the entire time that someone was making fun of me. As I was growing up and getting forced into this situation time and time again, I got better. I realized that I wasn’t going to die and that everyone wasn’t making fun of me; and if they were, who cares?
I grew as a person by getting out of my comfort zone.
Now in the adult world, I’ve had similar challenges. At first I was always looking for a job that I was going to be comfortable with. This led to me selling myself short and avoiding various challenges I would face with certain jobs. This was also causing problems with relationships, as I would get comfortable with someone and just leave it there. Everything would become stagnant, and nothing would change or create excitement. Again, I was letting my fears dictate how I wanted to live my life. Eventually I became fed up of having just okay jobs, just using people to keep me comfortable, and not making the progress into the adult world that I wanted. I realized that nothing was going to just come to me in life, and that if I wanted it I had to go take it for myself.
I took a leap of faith, plunging from the top of my comfortability, straight into a whirlwind of anxiety, stress, and unknowingness.
This by far was the best decision of my life.
I was able to leave a job I hated, and get one that I thought was great. When I found out that wasn’t what I wanted, I left that one. Then again, and then finally landing a job that has been nothing but perfect.
This current job presents me with challenges everyday and makes me uncomfortable A LOT (in a good way), but I have become a completely new person because of this. I feel unstoppable, because I can take on any challenge, and I can live through it, even if I fail. Hell, everytime I fail, I get even better than before.
I learned to say no, and stand up for myself in the face of fear. I grew a nice metaphorical pair of balls during this period in my life.
I ended a failing relationship that I was only in because it was comfortable, and accepted that it is okay to be alone. I’ve started learning to love myself, so that one day I can give someone else that same love. I started going to lunch by myself, and shopping alone; which used to give me massive anxiety.
It’s been crazy because all of this was going on at the same time, which makes me think that there was a lot of things that needed to change. All it took was one leap of faith to create a cascade of events that have reshaped my life so far.
While there still are times where my anxiety and need for comfort still linger, I am so much better than what I used to be. I look back at the old me and smile because of how far I’ve come since then. None of this would have changed if I had not forced myself into situations I was scared of. We as humans are adaptive beings. We take in the stress and pressure around us and use it to create a better version of ourselves, that is more suited to handle the previous situation. I like to think of myself as a piece of coal, that over time with pressure and stress, creates a diamond. Without that pressure, heat, and stress; that piece of coal would just remain a piece of coal.
So if you do not force yourself into those situations that scare the hell out of you, or make you leave that nestle of comfort; then you will never receive that feedback that will mold you into the best version of yourself.
Get out of your comfort zone if you want to grow as an individual. It may be scary at times, you will fail, but at the end of the day you’re alive and you’re growing.