Stepping Out of My Comfort Zone:
By: Christine Smith (McFarlane)
Everyone has a comfort zone, a routine that makes things predictable and safe. You may not think about it, but in the back of your mind, you know that there is probably a way you go about your day and how anxiety provoking it can be when you do something different.
I find that my comfort zone involves following a particular routine. This goes from how I start my day, where I go during the day, and how I end my day. It sounds like a lot of work, and it is. I like being in control of how my day goes and how it ends. It’s this control that made me starve myself when I was anorexic, and it is this control that has me obsessed with order and not wanting to stray from it.
For me to step out of a routine that I like to follow can be very anxiety provoking.
People may not see it, especially those who don't realize that I deal with anxiety issues, but inside I can tell you I am shaking, and the thoughts that turn around in my head are enough to make me want to just shut down and be invisible. That would be easy to do, become invisible that is but I am choosing not to do that. I am choosing not to be invisible because I know it is time for me to step up to the plate and be the person I want to be. So much of my past was steeped in being invisible and not having a voice. I am writing this post to tell you “it isn’t so anymore!”
As a way to step out of my comfort zone, I am starting to recognize more than ever that it’s being such a stickler for a specific routine that makes me feel overwhelmed and trapped by the burden of feeling boredom and fear. I want more excitement and I want to live a more exciting life. For me, that means stepping up, stretching my limits and trying new things.
There are many steps to take in order for me to step out of my comfort zone. I can be a perfectionist and obsessive compulsive about the steps I need to take, but by putting this out on my blog, I am choosing to put this out into the universe, and by doing that, I am saying “I want to change, and I want to change for the better.”
In order for me to achieve stepping out of my comfort zone, it means that I have to consciously do things I wouldn’t normally do. It also means what they say in therapy using ‘opposite to emotion’ action-which is fighting to do the opposite of how you are really feeling and making a conscious effort to come out of yourself and be present in the moment.
Making a conscious effort can be tiring but I know I can do it. I do it because I recognize that in order for me to become the best that I can be, I need to be proactive in changing myself for the better.
A couple of things that I have done that that has meant stepping out of my comfort zone is choosing the career of being a freelance writer. As a freelance writer, you are your own boss and you have a public persona that requires you to be your best.
I managed to step out and volunteer at Word on the Street with Shameless Magazine, even if it did just mean sitting in the cold alongside a colleague I feel comfortable with, and shadowing what she did. I swear, I’ll do better next year!
I have moved to an entirely new area of Toronto, and this has meant learning the new routes I need to take to get around the city. It means exploring new shops and stores (a shopaholic’s dream!)
I participated in the open mic night at the 6th Annual Indigenous Writers Gathering and though in my head I was saying
“OMG! I can’t do this,” I did it.
Finally, I have at the suggestion of a couple of really close friends, decided to hold a housewarming/birthday party at my new place.
I can picture in my head, the anxiety I will feel as the time grows closer to my party, but if I can do this, that is just one more important step I can make towards breaking out of my comfort zone.
The motto behind all this is that YOU CAN DO WHATEVER YOU SET OUT TO DO! It takes time, it takes practice, but it can be done!
( This piece is the first installment in taking the column I had with the Native Canadian "Life's Journey" and continuing it here on my blog.)