The big comfy couch – why it’s important to get out of your comfort zone
Know your limits
Never feel pressured to do things that don’t feel right to you only because you want to fit in or to impress people. We’re all different and we all have something that makes us shit in our pants. I might be scared of bungee jumping but can totally put my finger inside my eye – something for which one could get goosebumps just thinking about it. My mother has an immense fear of dogs. Once while we were visiting my cousin’s, his dog found their way out of the basement and my mother started screaming as if someone had just committed a crime. We all tried to calm her down and somehow thought that by keeping the dog around she would see that he was harmless and overcome her fear – not a good idea. See, we kind of forced it onto her when she wasn’t ready and we only made her stress meter reach a brand new level. Sometimes our fears are irrational and if we feel like they are amputating our lives, we can choose to face and to conquer them – but we must CHOOSE too.
face your fear
Last year, when I backpacked with my boyfriend in Mexico we visited the Great Pyramid of Cholula – the largest pyramid known to man in the world today. It was an unplanned visit and I had no idea that I was about to enter the tiniest place I had ever stepped foot in. It was an underground pyramid with a narrow alley where people were required to walk in a single line. Once you got to a certain point, there was no way back. News flash, I am kind of claustrophobic – can you imagine my reaction? As we started walking I could feel the walls closing on me, thus a panic attack emerged. I immediately stepped back, told my boyfriend I needed to leave and squeezed myself out in between the line up of people. Val being ultra supportive as always told me we didn’t have to go in again. I felt guilty but I also felt ashamed because I knew my phobia was irrational. I WANTED to face my fear – I needed to. We decided to walk it out, visited the little museum across the way and as soon as I felt ready I looked at my boyfriend and told him “Let’s go back”. He walked in front of me holding my hand from behind all the way through. I was nervous and anxious as fuck the entire way – it wasn’t easy at all. I hated every person who created traffic jam and slowing the paste to take pictures. A few minutes later – minutes that felt like forever, we were finally out. It didn’t take long for a mix of pride and repressed trepidation to manifest themselves in bursts of tears – I had just bungee jumped.
Get out of your comfort zone
My previous examples were mainly about fear but getting out of your comfort zone does not necessarily have to relate to a phobia. Fears can come in different forms and do not manifest themselves that thoroughly. The fear of running out of money, for example, can keep one from quitting the job that he utterly hates. It could be John Doe who dreams of opening his own bakery but is discouraged because he doesn’t believe in his own success with all the competition out there. These small things paralyze us from taking opportunities that could lead us to achieve greater things. Before I actually got on the plane to volunteer for almost three months in the 2nd poorest country in Central America, voices in my head told me to back off a million times. In retrospect, I had quit my job to sleep in the bed of a family who spoke a foreign language and that I had never met before, had to wash all my clothes by hand on a ”pila”, got bitten by a scorpion AND a wasp in my own bedroom, got woken up everyday at 4 am by a rooster that wouldn’t shut up, had severe allergies that required a change of mattress, was surrounded by untamed dogs in a neighbourhood that had conditional access to water and electricity, was served food fried in way too much oil on a daily basis accompanied by drinks high in sugar, witnessed male chauvinism..and the list goes on. A big part of the experience was unpleasant for me – from what I am used to comparing to my natural lifestyle. Despite all that, the worst part of my trip was also the best. I can honestly tell you that it was probably one of the biggest achievements of my entire life. First, I learned that I was stronger than I thought, that even in the worst situations, I had the capability and the creativity to overcome anything – high five self-esteem (FYI – my Spanish skyrocketed over there). Second, I had the opportunity to experience a different lifestyle – to put in perspective what I had always been thought and to deliberately decide if the way I was living was indeed my own. When I came back, I had no guarantee of a job but I was positive I would find something and I eventually did.
It’s not about what you lose
That baker’s dream might not end up the way he wants it too – he might end up not selling enough to make profit and his business won’t survive. Is it such a negative thing? Along the way, he’ll have learned how to build a business plan, what accounting looks like, met resourceful people, created new recipes, etc. Heck, he might even discover that managing a business was not for him. You have to try otherwise, you will never know. I don’t even know where this blog is going but I know that this is what I want to do, so here I am – trying. Stepping out of our comfort zones is what makes us grow. There were times in Nicaragua where I just wanted to cry and I wished that I could just snap my fingers, open my eyes and find myself in the comfort of my own bed, a bed that wasn’t covered by a mosquito net. There were also days where I experienced the most enjoyable moments in the simplest way one can get – sitting with my host family in a pitch-dark living room, candles lit, playing games and listening to silly jokes while waiting for the power to come back on. I’m telling ya, what doesn’t kill DOES make you stronger. Whatever is holding you back, don’t let in anymore. Once you take that jump, you’d be surprised how things will follow naturally but best of all, you will discover a brand new you.