Friday, June 11, 2010

Outside Your Comfort Zone: How to Be Your Best Self

Last night I was at a nightclub. I'm 41 and this is the first time I think I can say that particular phrase. Better, last night I was at a Steampunk-themed event at a nightclub until midnight. There--I said it--I was outside of my comfort zone.

Comfort zones--we all have them. There is our normal life and routine which we have gotten pretty used to. We have normal ways of approaching things, normal clothes, normal bedtimes, etc. It can make you feel uneasy when you go outside these normal routines.

I'm a fairly quiet person. I like to stay at home and read, watch tv, or surf the internet. I'm also relatively shy (something I've been working on stretching by doing various drama-related things and costume/acting events).

However, last night I was at an event, in costume, talking to at least 20 strangers (mostly--I had met a few before). They played music unlike the sort of things I listen to (if you remember my "golden shelf" post, I like the familiar routine of 80s music).

It was a great time. I had a lot of fun. I will probably want to do it again sometimes. So it was a great night and also a great victory.

Why a victory? My list of "41 Things to Do Before I'm 42" is partly about trying new things and getting outside of my comfort zone. I think we can not grow as people if we do not try new things from time to time. Since I deal with a great deal of fear and anxiety all of the time, I find that pushing myself to do new things can be very freeing.

I find that I gain strength when I try things like this and find that I enjoy it. I can look back at events like this and remind myself of the enjoyment. It helps me go on to do more things, to try more new experiences, and to face down any fears that may be holding me back.

I think of it like this. I am a flower (in my mind, a daffodil because they are very cheery, loud, but a bit dumb). My fears are like a ceramic pot which is too small for me to grow in. In order for my roots to have room to grow and allow me to flourish, I have to keep increasing the size of my ceramic pot. New experiences allow me to increase the size of that ceramic pot, allow my roots to stretch out a bit more, and allow me to be the best flower I can be.

If I let my fears overwhelm me, then the pot is shrinking and it causes my roots to grow inward. If you have ever taken a root-bound plant out of a pot, you know what that becomes. The roots grow in tiny circles into the shape of the pot and strangle the plant. The roots become like the pot itself, essentially making the plant become part of the pot. My fears and I will become one if I don't keep trying to fight them, to grow past them, to keep pushing outside my comfort zone just a little and learn that I am stronger than my fears and they can not hold me back.

Last night I stretched my roots out a little and it felt good.

Go out today and see if you can stretch your roots out a little and be the best flower you can be.

If you are unfamiliar with the term Steampunk, here are some links which should answer any questions:

Steampunk Ghostbusters
Steampunk Laptop
Steampunk House Interior


  1. Good for you! I love your image of a flower in a pot, as a reminder of why it's important to keep pushing past fears and trying new things, in order to keep growing, and be as much as you can be.

    At the moment I'm trying to take this on board by stretching past fears in what I write; also to stop compartmentalising myself so much.

  2. Well, with my image of fear, compartmentalizing is just another feature of fear--keeping us in little boxes.

    It isn't easy; I know that. I'm here on the same journey.

    Best of luck with stretching your roots out, in your writing and your life.


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