Hey guys! What’s new? How’s your week been?
I know it’s been a while since my last blog post, but I’ve been doing some growing y’all!
So, I wanted to talk about the importance of getting out of your comfort zone to enable change. But how does one do this when fear always seems to keep you from trying new things…
For the longest time I just stuck to what I knew. I wasn’t one to try new things because that required me being very uncomfortable, while probably acting socially awkward. Besides I liked being comfortable! I liked knowing what was around the corner and being in spaces I knew accepted me.
And this expanded to all areas of my life. My friends and family, my hobbies and everything else in-between. I liked excitement, but could do without all the surprises. And that allowed me to have stability and normalcy. I didn’t have a life that had too many twists and turns, and I liked it like that.
Until I started my real period of ‘adulting‘. It’s hard to define but…
According to linguist and author, Ben Zimmer in TIME, ‘adulting’ tends to be used by those “who find themselves doing adult things for the first time and feeling like an adult,” he says. “It is very much attached to people coming of age, where they’re thrust into having to take things more seriously.” Every generation, he adds, “comes to grip with aging in their own way.”
And that’s exactly what happened to me. I was entering the world of work, no longer constantly around my friends and forging my own separate identity. I was becoming Sosa, yet still had no idea who that was.
But I needed to figure that out quick time, especially being an ambitious young black woman, working in a corporate environment. I needed to know what I stood for and why, using that as my unique-selling-point for wherever I found myself. If I didn’t, I thought, I would be looked over and forgotten about. Or made to do things that went against my core principles.
But how does one forge an identity in a limited space of time?
Well, in short, you can’t really do this. It is something that one does over the period of their life and requires consistent change.
But…you can kick-start that process by stepping outside of your comfort zone and doing things you never thought of doing.
And this can be really small.
Bravery coach, Christiana Hill wrote in Bustle: “We think we have to quit our job, go skydiving, or take that big, scary action, and that fear actually stops us from taking any action. When it comes to stepping outside of your comfort zone, getting ‘comfortable being uncomfortable’ can start as small as changing the part in your hair.”
This kind of thinking emboldened me to start doing new things as simple always saying ‘good morning’ and ‘good bye’ to my colleagues at the end of the day. Now I know what you’re thinking, erm…that’s pretty basic Sosa.
Well, essentially it is, but it’s also something I don’t typically do. My social awkwardness would never allow me to be so confident as to say much at all! I would be scared everyone would ignore me (and they have lol!) or I would say it wrong – silly fearful thoughts. But it turns out for the most part, I always got the greetings back or at least an acknowledgement. Sometimes my colleagues said it before I did and we started building friendly relationships.
But it was this small act of pushing myself to a point where I was uncomfortable, that allowed me to do more things.
Like more nerve-wracking things such as going to networking events on my own or even putting myself forward to talk about my organisation at a local school. Something that I’ve always wanted to do but felt to frightened to try.
But don’t get me wrong, sometimes it’s really hard to push past this. Being uncomfortable even for a short while isn’t fun, despite knowing the outcome is for the best.
Take Cher from Clueless. A once stuck-up bitchy girl completely and utterly comfortable being the most popular at the school, had that taken away from her when a new girl joined her group. A situation of her own making, but this was something she hadn’t ever experienced before or even wanted to.
She was forced to step outside of this when her social status disappeared. In the end, Cher did something completely new to try and restart her social life, attempting to be more purposeful by helping her school with different environmental projects. It was outside the bubble of what she was comfortable with, that she found love, real friendship and some happiness in life.
And these kind of experiences eventually strengthen your bravery muscles. “You’ll find that you will put yourself out there more and more,” says Hill. “And pretty soon, you’ll be well on your way to tackling bigger goals in life.”
And this doesn’t mean to say you won’t face adversity along the way. It will be very hard and probably stress you out. You’ll also probably retreat back into your small bubble too, finding solace there.
That’s okay too.
Dipping in and out doesn’t make you a failure or risk-averse. Re-charging for your next feat requires mental agility and strength and keeps the stress levels at bay, crucial for high productivity.
So, you don’t have to step out all day, everyday, but you DO have to make a conscious effort to keep pushing past your fear. When I did, life got a lot more interesting to say the least. I also achieved much more in such a short space of time. But the point is, be encouraged in the space outside of your comfort zone, and not afraid of it.
P.S. I would love to know how you guys pushed past your comfort zone, comment below!