Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
The best things happen outside of our comfort zone.
Putting yourself in a situation where you know you will feel uncomfortable, is not easy, but it might just be one of the best things you’ll ever do.
I am someone that spent most of her 20s suffocated by her comfort zone. A place where, yes for a while I felt safe, but that safety turned out to be a hindrance on experiences I wanted to have. I would often think about activities I wanted to do, places I wanted to go and things I would like to try but never allowed myself to explore. There would always be a reason not to do it. I convinced myself I couldn’t. I couldn’t do things alone. I couldn’t try new things. I couldn’t be open about my feelings. I couldn’t be in social situations with new people and feel completely fine about it. A lot of this was an implication of mental ill health struggles, but not all of it. The truth is, looking back I think I got so accustomed to feeling ‘just okay’ with my mundane everyday that the thought of rocking the boat and pushing myself through situations that made me feel anxious just didn’t appeal to me at all.
It’s important to note, that if you do suffer with anxiety, then this is not something you can just ‘push your way out of’. Having been there myself, I understand how hard it can be and I would never advocate putting yourself in a situation that would be further damaging to your mental health.
But there is a difference between experiencing anxiety and feeling anxious. We all get anxious feelings. Just as we all get nervous, sad, happy. It’s a human emotion. For me, feeling anxious is the exact same feeling as excitement. It’s so similar, that even now when I am experiencing it, I must ask myself, am I anxious or am I excited?
Why is this important? Well, when we are faced with situations that are outside of our ‘norm’, unfamiliar or unpredictable we often will experience anxious feelings. It’s primal. Fight or flight. That feeling we have is a physiological response to a situation that we may perceive as a threat. Sure, this would happen if we came face to face with a Lion but it also happens in everyday situations such as job interviews, going on a date, meeting new people, or trying out a new activity. In those moments, we can make the decision to run away, or to face that which makes us uncomfortable.
I’ve done both. Sometimes, I think it’s necessary and important to recognise situations that aren’t right for you. Its okay to say no and not succumb to pressures that make you feel like you should “try anything once”. If something feels wrong to you, then follow that gut instinct you have and don’t do it.
But, for those moments where you do have curiosities. The moments where you’re not quite sure if you should or shouldn’t do something and the moments that get you thinking ‘what if’. It’s in those moments, that life can change, for the better. Taking that step outside of your comfort zone, won’t be easy. It doesn’t feel natural. But personal growth is worth it. Allowing yourself to explore new experiences, challenging beliefs, opinions and ideas about yourself or others around you can open really open your world up to incredible things.
I’ve done this quite often in the past couple of years. I’ve pushed hard, been curious and explored things I never thought I would. I’ve mentioned this before but joining CrossFit when I had never stepped foot in a gym in my life, was terrifying but one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. The nervous energy that once held me back, is now what drives me forward. My horizons have been broadened and having the courage to be uncomfortable every now and then, has helped me achieve so much. Not all decisions we make, will result in positive outcomes. Sometimes, we will take a leap and it won’t go to plan, but what we gain from that experience will still be more than we would have gained if we did nothing at all. “Doing” builds confidence.
I can’t pretend that I am someone who fiercely enters the unknown. That’s not me at all. I enter the unknown in most cases trembling and filled with nerves, but that’s okay. Because I still enter. For me, it’s about taking small and steady steps and the occasional leap. Understanding myself, my wants, my needs and my desires has helped me navigate what decisions to make. So, if you’re unsure maybe start there. I’m a big believer of everything happens for a reason and following what feels right or good for you. I just didn’t always allow myself to do that.
If I could tell a younger me what I know now, I would say; ‘Allow yourself to feel your curiosities. Explore. Be open to new possibilities and be okay with situations not ending up how you had hoped. Enjoy the journey of getting somewhere rather than focusing on the outcome. Disrupt your norm and give yourself the opportunity to grow. Get comfortable, with being uncomfortable’.
So, if like me you find yourself questioning your ‘everyday’, maybe take this opportunity to try something new. Something small and see how it feels. You may find the fulfilment you’ve been looking for.
Until next time…