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January 10, 2014

Leaving Your Safe Box. ~ Audrey Louise

Outside of your comfort zone is where you can find the most interesting parts of life.

You take one hesitant step forwards and start feeling overwhelmingly wrapped in anxiety. However, you are at the point of no return; you must keep moving forwards. You feel your stomach twist like you have butterflies, but you push through the feeling. Suddenly, the fear subsides and is replaced by relief and exhilaration. “That wasn’t as bad as I thought.” You feel empowered.  “What was I so afraid of anyways?”

Growing up I was always very shy.

My hands would sweat when I was the center of attention and my face would turn tomato red at the slightest feeling of embarrassment. I was consumed by the fear of others and their opinion of me. As a result, I did not branch out of my routine or do anything to draw attention to myself. I did not feel comfortable speaking up in class if I knew the answer, approaching people I did not know or trying new things.

I was constricted in a box with a very small volume.

In high school I applied to a service trip to Kingston, Jamaica not believing anything would come of it. When I was accepted far in advance before the trip, it seemed so distant that I didn’t become consumed by fear until the night before before the trip. I had taken on this adventure with a group of 11 other students, of which I was the youngest, whom I didn’t know. What if they don’t like me? I spent the night prior to leaving panicking telling my mother that I couldn’t do it and I couldn’t go.

At this point there was no backing out and there I was the next morning on a plane to Jamaica.

This trip enhanced my life in so many ways. Through the connections I made with my group and the enriching volunteer experience, I returned home with a whole new drive and passion for life. It brought a refreshment to my life and changed the way that I viewed my experiences.

I had a new perspective and sense of gratitude.

The more I pushed myself out of my comfort zone, the more I realized of what I was capable. However, each time I tried these new adventures, I still somehow fell back into my safe box. I reverted back to the hesitant girl in middle school, afraid of trying new things. I came to the realization that pushing myself and growing in all aspects of my life involved much more effort than I had thought.

Growing and becoming the person that you want to be is a daily choice.

It is choosing “yes” over choosing “no” which can be difficult to do. It is tempting to always choose “no” when something has the possibility to fail or be uncomfortable. However, life is learning process. There are no useless experiences because there is a lesson to be learned from everything.

“How will I ever change if I continue to remain the same?” “How will I become the person that I want to be while still acting like the person I used to be? “

Every experience that is out of your comfort zone enhances your life far more than those that you have experienced before. Remember, the interesting parts are what will fill you with passion and push you to evolve into the best person that you are capable of being. Every new opportunity is a breath of fresh air. Every new experience gives you knowledge and a better understanding of yourself and the world around you.

Every day choose growth and new opportunities over remaining the same.

Here are some strategies to use to push beyond the comfort zone:

  • Choose a personal mantra that will help motivate you and push you in your desired direction.

Some mantras that I like to use are “I can do anything I set my mind to” and “I can become the person that I want to be.”

  • Ignore the inner voice in your head that is telling you that you are not good enough. You are the only person holding you back.

I try to live in the moment as much as possible without letting my negative inner voice affect my decisions. If I feel this inner voice coming through then I acknowledge it but push it out of my mind.

Remind yourself of your strength.

  • Make goals and plan out how you will achieve them.

I recently made a vision board—which for me is a cork board compiled with clippings of quotes and images that help remind me of what I am working towards. It serves as a visual reminder every morning to keep myself on the right path.

  • Remind yourself of all of the positive and valuable experiences you have had. Focus on creating more in the future.

For this step, I find it helpful to look at old pictures. In addition, writing down positive experiences can serve as a good reminder of what a benefit stepping out of your comfort zone can be.

  • Aim to experience something new every day.

This can be difficult to accomplish in a busy world, but I try to switch something up everyday if possible. For example, I will walk home from class a different way. Something as small as breaking a habit can be a refreshment.

  • Remember that change is a process. Take life one step at a time.

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Assistant Editor: Alicia Wozniak/Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photo: elephant journal archives

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