“You gotta shake it up, baby!”
Since I started blogging, I’ve been trying to get myself out of the whole “too timid and squeamish” thing by getting out of my comfort zone. For this post, I wanted to feature the experiences of others, and I asked for stories and tips.
For me, yoga is out of my comfort zone, but I love it. I’m not naturally comfortable dealing with emotions, listening to my body or, frankly, staying quiet for 90 minutes. But practicing yoga has taught me the power of control, and also of letting it go. It balances me out, since I lead a busy, stressful life, and always reminds me that there’s nothing I can’t handle.
I think that trying new things is crucial to growing as a person, and especially to becoming more empathetic to what others are going through. If I succeeded at everything, I’d never know how painful failure can be, and I don’t think I’d have the motivation to push myself to the next goal.
My advice to others when it comes to trying new things is to think about the best AND worst case scenarios. I often find that the reward far outweighs the risk, and when I really think about what I’m trying to accomplish, I feel proud just for trying to reach that goal.
— Katy @ Katy Widrick
One year after we got married, I talked my husband into going to college. I told him he could go anywhere he wanted, so he chose a “very green area” on the map in Idaho. We took a week long vacation, drove from KS to ID and found a place to rent, drove back home, quit our jobs and moved Halloween weekend. We didn’t have jobs, didn’t know anyone in Idaho or Washington and weren’t sure where January’s rent was going to come from, much less meals in December. It was terrifying and freeing all at once. Definitely one of the best experiences of our lives.
The best benefit to doing this was that it made us totally dependent on each other and I’m certain helped to strengthen our relationship. It helped to prove that we could do anything we decided to do. I imagine that one pretty big risk is the risk of failure.
That honestly didn’t occur as a possibility to us though. We just knew we would make it. I imagine it could be a deal breaker for some people.
Tip for someone avoiding trying new things: Ask yourself why you’re avoiding it. Put your faith in God and yourself and jump off that bridge. Every day is a new day, a new opportunity and a new chance at living your dreams. Trust yourself and follow through!
— Jennifer @ Mommy Y
I used to have a thing about messy food–I’m much better about it now, but I had a friend who used to purposely make messy food for me to eat, just to see what I would do. He would laugh as I would attempt to eat chicken wings with a fork and knife, and still thinks it is funny when I eat the first few bites of pizza that way. The nice thing is that by trying different things, I found out that I liked things I never would have had at home, like steamed artichokes, for example. The only risk is that you try something you don’t like, and in that case, just have a nice glass of wine to wash it down, and something else you might like.
I will embrace messy foods depending on what they are—I just might have a wet paper towel nearby.
Sometimes I feel that coming out of a comfort zone need not mean the same for everyone. Sometimes it may be something very simple. For example, for me, my comfort zone was not opening up to people. Blogging publicly, talking to strangers and letting them inside my life was a huge thing. I have been blogging since 2005 or something but it’s recently that I have gone public. Sometimes what helps me to come out of my comfort zone is thinking, “Ten years later will I remember being embarrassed? Ten years later will this be important for me? Ten years later will this matter?”
— Rahmath @ Through My Eyes
This last summer we went to Greece. We were on a G Adventures tour and traveled between the Greek islands stopping for one day on each one. We sometimes did a group activity or just saw stuff on our own. Every night there was a group dinner that you could choose to go to. We usually went and ate the expensive local food. On one of the last islands there was a delicious fish the restaurant just called local fish. After we were done we were just hanging out and our skipper, David, mentioned that the eyeballs were edible. So our family each took one eyeball because there were two fish. I ate an eyeball. The retina was very chewy, and I couldn’t make myself swallow it. The eyeball just tasted like most of the rest of the fish.
When addressing a personal experience on my mom blog or referring to something outside of my comfort zone I always refer to this quote from Eleanor Roosevelt:
“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by each experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”
Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962) American columnist, lecturer and humanitarian.
— Gina @ MommyPosh
My tip re: encouraging kids & friends to try something new – DON’T push. Offer, perhaps describe how much you enjoyed a food/experience, but being pushed to try things outside my comfort zone pretty much settles I won’t enjoy them even if I am coerced to try them.
Something I enjoyed (seriously) was target shooting with my ex b-f. The whole clay pigeon thing, very satisfying to pull the trigger and hit a moving target. I never thought I’d like firing a weapon.
Beverly Diehl @ Writing in Flow
My whole career exists outside my comfort zone. I realize that most teens are self conscious to a point that they generally don’t want to attract attention to themselves. I was painfully self conscious and unconfident, to the point where I refused to complete any assignment in which I was required to stand in front of the class and speak. For these assignments, I simply took a zero. I was a “good” student, graduating 11th in my class, so it’s not as though a zero grade was an easy choice, but it was far less painful than the alternative.
Like many students, during my first couple of years of college I jumped around from one science major to another, not ever feeling like my choice was “the right one.” I actually became so “lost” that I left college all together until I could find some direction. In that time, I met and married my wife. While she already had a bachelor’s degree, she decided to go back to get a master’s to become a teacher. At night, as she would work on her mock lessons, I would sometimes help her out. I found the process of finding novel ways of presenting lessons fairly easy and very appealing. It dawned on me that my calling was to be a teacher. Oh, wait. Do you think I would need to stand in front of a group of people and speak in that career?
The intense irony did not escape me. Now that I had a direction, it was time to restart my college education. One of my first classes had to be Public Speaking. I knew that if I couldn’t get through that, there was no way I could be a teacher. Yes, I was older, but the idea of speaking still filled me with as much dread as ever. For each of my assignments, I would practice the speech over and over. I would record it and listen to it in my car as I drove around. I would give the speech in front of a mirror. In retrospect, I now believe that my greatest fear was that my audience would perceive me as not knowing what I was talking about. My nerves would cause my head to swirl, making it difficult to hold my train of thought. I would surely soon get lost, and then stumble and bumble along desperately trying to recover the remainder of the time. I think it all stems from a traumatic experience I had in second grade where I was thrust upon the school stage as a class project without actually knowing my lines. Painful is an understatement. Absolute nightmare, from which I can’t seem to wake up is more apt.
To this day, before every single class I teach, I need to prepare myself. I need to feel I know the material solidly because much of my effort will be in controlling my nerves and maintaining focus and clarity in word choice. You would think that after well more than 10,000 public speaking engagements, I would not even notice that what I was doing was public speaking. I do notice — every time. I operate outside my comfort zone nearly every day. Having made it through the least comfortable of all of my uncomfortables, I find it much easier to stretch myself for an hour, a day, or a week. My life is richer because of it.
Thanks to everyone who contributed!
Related post: Don’t Be Too Timid! Link Party