The Zone of Comfort

But I like it here!

Do something every day that scares you. Every day? Really? Wouldn’t that be exhausting? I’ve been pushing against my comfort boundaries and have noticed that the harder I push, the bigger the reward. It’s different for all of us, no doubt. The trick is to keep nudging things along, dipping toes in water to see how it feels. 

My main problem tends to be my (loud) inner critic. She has a field day when I start to step towards the edge, always quick to leap up and hold me back, keen to keep me safe. To be fair, the comfort zone cushions are nice and squishy. Why would you leave the area and risk the discomfort of regret or failure? 

A while back, we planned to leave our jobs, sell our house, and pack everything into a van to live on the road for a year. The inner critic once again started shouting. It’s dangerous out there! What if something goes wrong miles from home? You don’t even speak the languages of those countries! (Also, I’ve heard there are wolves in Scandinavia). And so on. We felt the fear and did it anyway. And it was an unforgettable experience, leaving us with memories of a lifetime.

I had always wanted to record my voice and maybe even feature on the radio some day. But your voice sounds weird! And you don’t know the first thing about recording things! I felt the fear and did it anyway. And now I’m a regular contributor on BBC Radio Ulster sharing thoughts for the day. 

More recently, when I accepted a job as a storyteller visiting prisons to lead sessions with women and young people, the voice was filled with anxiety as it spoke about safety and failure. I felt the fear and did it anyway. And already I’ve learned so much about life’s twists and turns from some amazing people. 

All of these things involved stepping out of my comfort zone, just to see what would happen. It wasn’t always easy. Sometimes I second-guessed myself, sometimes I thought I’d make a mistake, but mostly I found that life rewarded my courage with newly-formed self-belief.

There’s nothing quite like the feeling that comes from pushing yourself (even a little) and living to tell the tale. I wonder what’s around the next corner…I’m up for giving it a go.