Everyone loves their comfort zone. It’s nice and warm, and non-confrontational there. We know what the day will be like and we don’t have to run into things we’re uncomfortable with.
But life in your comfort zone can get boring. If you do the same safe things every day, you’ll never grow as a person. And I’d like to hope we’re all trying to grow and change every day.
Leaving your comfort zone is scary, anxiety-inducing, and overall uncomfortable. But it’s the best uncomfortable feeling you’ll ever have.
I want to share my story of stepping out of my comfort zone, how you can move out of your own comfort zone, and why you need to in the first place.
Throwing Yourself Out of Your Comfort Zone is the Best Uncomfortable Thing You’ll Do
I’m a giant ball of anxiety. There’s no way around that. So when something gets me antsy or even nervous it can be a big deal to me. My anxiety makes things much worse than they really are, and anyone else with anxiety of any kind probably has the same issue.
I hated leaving my comfort zone. To say I stayed entirely within my comfort zone is an understatement.
It wasn’t until I started writing about America East College Basketball that I wanted to step out of my comfort zone.
America East Men’s Basketball
My old university is part of the America East Conference for sports. I was part of the pep band and absolutely fell in love with basketball after watching the games we played at. So much so that I continued with the pep band well after my graduation (we did get paid for that at that time). I was able to continue my love of playing music while encouraging my new found love of college basketball.
It wasn’t until a team in the middle of the standings managed to fight their way through the conference championship to win the tournament and get their chance in the NCAA Tournament (that whole March Madness thing) that made me want to write about that whole ordeal.
I found a little site called Mid Major Madness that allowed fans to write up articles. My writing must have caught someone’s eye because I received an email from one of the editors asking if I wanted to write for them the following season.
I was thrilled yet scared because I’m very self conscious about my writing. I think most writers think their words aren’t as good as they can be and are constantly looking to improve them. But I went along with it anyway.
Stepping Outside that Bubble
When I first started writing articles, I was able to watch most of them online and go to the home games of my alma mater. That wasn’t too nerve wracking for me because I had been around the athletics department for so long I knew just about everyone there.
It wasn’t until I started traveling to other schools in the conference, then schools outside of the conference, that the anxiety set in and I knew I was stepping out of my comfort zone.
Getting credentials for games still boggles my own mind. I still can’t believe someone wants me to write about their school in Division 1 basketball. So that would make me nervous to start.
Then I would have to drive to the school. The closest one is 2 hours away for me. That’s a long drive for someone who doesn’t drive longer than a 30 minute commute to work. Basketball season is mostly in the winter, so there’s not only the fear of getting lost and not getting to the game on time, but weather issues as well.
Stepping into a (mostly) unfamiliar surrounding, talking to people I don’t know, with no idea where I’m supposed to go is very scary to say the least. But once I talked with the right people, they showed me where to go, and I was settled in court side to take photos of the game, everything fell back into place. Each time I went to a new school it would take a few games to warm up to the whole process.
Once I started going to schools outside the conference it started all over again. I was going to new schools I was most likely not going to see again. Any kind of familiarity is removed from the situation unless I get lucky.
The scariest moment for me was the first time I was credentialed for the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame Tournament games at Mohegan Sun. This was a big deal. I was going to be back stage at the arena and treated like a real journalist. I was going to be sitting next to people from local publications and national publications. I was very nervous.
I survived through it, and now I go yearly since the conference I cover happens to have a team in the tournament every year (at least so far). I’ve gone for the past 6 years and even have a friendly acquaintanceship with a few people.
How This Helped Me
By throwing yourself head first into a new situation you can either sink or swim. If you act scared and afraid, it’s going to show and things aren’t going to go well. So what I did was put up a bit of a wall. In the beginning I just plowed through things and pushed my anxieties to the side. My heart rate may have been off the charts, but I couldn’t let that show. It not only makes me look like a newbie to things, but makes me less confident in my own abilities.
I would walk, chin up, pretending that I was as important as the lanyard and press pass around my neck said I was.
What that’s done has made me be able to have that sense of confidence in myself in new situations. Whether that be a job interview, having to move to a new place, or going to a new school to cover another basketball game.
A lot of the time I walked around with this false sense of “I know what I’m doing” while internally screaming “I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I’M DOING!”. Now I have less of a false feeling and more of a “I kind of actually know what I’m doing” feeling.
I still worry about thing and my anxiety is still problematic at times, but if need be, I can push some of those feelings aside if I have to get something done.
Why You Need to Take That Step
If you stay within your comfort zone you’re going to live your life on autopilot. When has anything fun or exciting ever happened when you were on autopilot? In my experience, being on autopilot is usually a precursor to a depression episode. So that’s not a good thing. You’ll be bored and uninteresting, but comfort.
No one ever did anything they were proud of while on autopilot.
But what if you’re okay with being boring and uninteresting? Well, do you want to never learn something new for the rest of your life? Do you want to spend your life doing the exact same thing day in and day out like a drone?
“Stepping outside one’s comfort zone is an important, and almost universal, factor in personal growth. How can we expect to evolve in our lives and careers if we only stick to habit and routine? Reaching new heights involves the risk of attempting something we might not succeed at.”
Yes, we’re wired to seek out comfort and safety. But that’s no way to live. You need to challenge yourself to grow and become the best you there can be.
It may even get you stuck in a kind of rut where you don’t know what you’re doing with your life.
How to Challenge Yourself
Challenging yourself doesn’t have to be as overt as my example of covering live basketball games for a sports journalism website. It can be as simple as taking a different route to work, trying new foods you’ve never had before, or going out on the town by yourself.
The main point of challenging yourself and stepping outside of your comfort zone is to make sure you’re doing things that make you uncomfortable or scared. As long as what you’re doing isn’t going to hurt you or others, take a tiny step away from that comfort.
Do What Scares You
What is something that scares you but isn’t quite absolutely-not-never-in-my-life kind of scary? Try it.
Afraid to go to the movies alone? Give it a try.
Want to try out that new restaurant but you don’t want to be a table of one? Just see how that goes.
Is there a festival or concert going on but you don’t like crowds? Give it a try, maybe even see if a friend can go with you.
Make a list of some of the things that you’ve been wanting to do but are too scared to do. See how you can start working towards doing these things. Maybe start with once a month, step out of your comfort zone.
For me it would be going on vacation alone. Currently I’ve been going with a friend, but the ultimate scare for me is going alone. While I like being alone, I don’t know how I would fair being away somewhere to do activities by m
Do Something New
What is something you’ve always wanted to try but haven’t gotten around to it? Make a list (Lists are great!) and slowly check those things off.
Want to try a new food? Give it a go.
Want to try changing your style? Change it.
Going to go from tomboy to more feminine? Do it. I did
Take a new course, visit a new town, take a vacation Anything!
Take the things you do on the daily and figure out what the opposite of that is. I prefer to stay home and go on the internet. So for me, something like going hiking would be a new experience.
Do Something That Makes You Uncomfortable
A lot of people avoid being uncomfortable because, well… Being uncomfortable is uncomfortable! But if you’re new to stepping outside of your comfort zone, starting with some things that don’t make you scared, but are slightly uncomfortable can be just the gateway you need.
Do you not like vegetables? Give them a try again.
Maybe you don’t fancy camping? Grab some friends and give it a go.
Not a fan of big crowds? Go to a local event and see how you do.
While doing things that will scare you will definitely get you out of your comfort zone, so do things that make you uncomfortable but they’re not something you’re afraid of.
Having to move in with roommates isn’t something that scares me, I’ve had many roommates before, but it is something I’m not exactly comfortable with. I would prefer to be able to afford living on my own and having my own space. But I’m currently living with two roommates. It is what it is.
Change What You Normally Do
A lot of us do the same thing every day because we have a work schedule that demands it. I know I wake up, go to work, come home, go on the internet or play some video games, then go to sleep. The only thing that interrupts that schedule is if there’s a basketball game on.
Do you get a coffee every morning? Maybe change up the coffee beans or if you order at a cafe, get a different drink you think might be interesting.
Brush your teeth with your left hand? Give your right hand a try.
Have the same ham and cheese sandwich for lunch? Maybe try a meatball sub.
The things you do don’t have to be big changes, they can be little. You can work your way up to the bigger things over time. Remember, there is no rush in personal growth. It happens when you want and it doesn’t matter where anyone else is in their journey.
- Your comfort zone is comfortable. But you can’t stay there forever
- Stepping outside your comfort zone is the only way you’ll be able to experience new things and grow as a person.
- There are so many ways to do that:
- Do things that scare or frighten you
- Try something new
- Do things that make you uncomfortable
- Change up your daily routine
You know yourself better than I do. I can’t tell you the exact things that will help you get out of your comfort zone. I hope you liked this post and maybe inspires you to do something outside your comfort zone sometime soon.
Do you have any suggestions on how to break out of your comfort zone? Let me know in the comments!
If you like this post or know someone who might like this post, please give it a share! Shares, comments, and likes are what keep this blog running! Thank you! <3
Leave a comment or hit me up on Instagram. Don’t forget to follow me on Pinterest!
Want to help support the blog? Consider donating to my Ko-Fi page or support me by buying me something on my Amazon Wish List.