We all have a comfort zone: some are small and particular whilst others are bigger and encompass a lot of experiences. Some have thick walls constantly under guard whilst others have more lenient borders. As I’ve grown up, my comfort zone has stretched out in many ways – for example, my independence, ability to travel alone and slower heart rate when making phone calls.
Yet, in a lot of other ways, my comfort zone has shrunk as I’ve become more self-aware, and as a result of this, more self-conscious. My comfort zone in terms of putting myself out there, doing sport and self-confidence have all diminished; sometimes it feels like the walls have been built up higher and surrounded by a moat. This is something I’d like to change.
This isn’t a new revelation, or action plan, for me. For quite a few years now I’ve been finding myself in situations where I’m miles away from my comfort zone and have chosen to stay there and push through the discomfort. Especially since leaving school, there have been many opportunities for me to experiment with pushing these boundaries out, from getting new jobs and talking to new people, to starting this blog and solo travelling. And yes, it is normally worth it.
I remember very clearly a moment that took place perhaps five years ago. The day I had just enough courage to go to the post office on my own and mail a parcel at the counter, heart crashing against my ribs and sweat streaming down my spine. That girl could not pick up a phone unless it was her mum or dad on the other end, she had only just started being able to order her own food at restaurants, and that girl felt weak. Yet she so clearly wasn’t. Because that girl was me: a young woman who has done so many unimaginable things since then. It was that terrified girl who one day had the strength to confront her discomfort by taking a deep breath and moving the bricks of her comfort zone a couple of paces outwards.
In my experience, introversion and anxiety naturally lean towards a small, well-protected comfort zone. It has been a constant battle, in a loud, outgoing, connected world, for a person of such a temperament to expand the boundaries of what’s comfortable. But every single time I have been able to look back and realise the space in which I feel relaxed and capable has grown, I feel a swoop of pride flip over my stomach.
Expanding your comfort zone changes so much about how you live your life, from what you do short-term and long-term, to how you think and feel about yourself. I’ve read a lot of blogs and articles and seen plenty of videos about doing things outside your level of comfort, and they all seem to come to the conclusion that doing things you never thought you possibly could, no matter how little, is a wonderful way to grow as a person.
I want to be more confident in myself. I want to feel worthy of other people’s time and space. I want to gather new experiences without being held back by anxiety. These are huge goals, but that doesn’t mean they’re unattainable. After all, I’ve broken through the walls of my comfort zone many times before and I am determined that I will continue to do so.
That sense of achievement I’ve felt before makes me hungry for more; I’m like a farmer who can’t stop buying up new fields because they’ve discovered a new fruit they want to try and need the space to plant it. There are so many things I haven’t yet tried, a lot of them because the boundaries of my comfort zone won’t allow me to. But this is something I’m slowly learning to change, because as cliché as it sounds, I don’t want to live a safe life of regret.
I want to push myself and do things in the future that seem as unfathomable to me now, as the things I do now seemed to the little girl I once was. This is the start of me documenting my experiences doing exactly that – from the small to the big, this post is my pledge to go forward seeking discomfort. Will you join me?
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