I really like my comfort zone. Most of us do. It makes me feel safe and in control; both of which are important in keeping my anxiety at bay. But living life in that bubble is not how you get the most out of it. If we stay in our comfort zones, we miss a lot of the things that the world has to offer. We miss a lot of opportunities that could take our life in an exciting new direction. We let our fear keep us hostage. But how do we step out of that zone?
There have been many times in my life where I have had to wander outside of my comfort zone. Some of them were by choice and other times life pushed me out into the deep end and said: “Time to swim.” Either way, I have some experience. Being in a military family often resulted in life forcing me to step out of my zone. Every two years, I was forced to start at a new school and make new friends. As a shy and introverted kid, that was way outside what made me comfortable. However, with each move, I found that I was better at talking to people. I wasn’t as afraid. I came out of my shell faster than before. I was better able to relate to people. I became resilient. I was introduced to what it means to fight for your country and the sacrifices that come with it. Being forced out of my comfort zone shaped the person that I am today and the way I look at the world. Without that push, I wouldn’t be as strong as I am today.
There have also been times in my life that I have stepped out of my comfort zone by choice. As someone who struggles with anxiety, these moments are huge for me. When I was picking which college I would attend, I had no idea where my parents would move halfway through freshman year. I knew they were in Texas for the start and that our extended family lived in Georgia and the Carolinas. With all of my headache issues in the last two years of high school, I wanted to be close to family. I started looking at schools in the states where they lived. But one night, I was talking to some people in a group chat about what God had been saying to us recently. People were sharing their favorite verses and how they were applying them in their lives. At one point someone talked about how they had been trying to step out of their comfort zone. They said that they felt like God was telling them to broaden their horizons to get a better picture of the world and their place in it. I had been wavering between a few schools, but that night I chose the school farthest away from my extended family. That choice was a little scary, but now I am going into my senior year and I couldn’t have asked for a better college experience. Sometimes stepping out of your comfort zone is what leads you to the most fulfilling things.
Fear is normal. Everyone is afraid to rock the boat. Having anxiety often puts these fears in the forefront of your mind. But it’s important to not let that fear control you. I am about to embark on an adventure that scares me a little. For the next couple of weeks, I will be traveling to Europe to meet up with a friend and explore that part of the world. I will be flying from Atlanta to Brussels in just a couple of days. That’s a long flight by myself. Once I get there and meet up with my friend, I’m sure some of the worries will wear off, but for the few hours that I am alone in a foreign airport, I’m sure those fearful thoughts will be talking loudly in my head. I have never been out of the country and as someone who doesn’t like flying in general, flying to a different country by myself is a big step out of my comfort zone. But I already know that this trip is going to change me. I’m going to see a different part of the world and I’m going to broaden my horizons. When I return, facing these fears will be worth it.
Everyone enjoys their comfort zone, but it isn’t where you should stay. A comfort zone is a lot like locking yourself in your house. You have all the conveniences that you need, but there are things going on outside that you can’t get to. You are just looking out of a window watching life unfold without you. You are comfortable but you aren’t fully living. I know that it’s hard to let go of the comfortable, but you don’t have to take a big leap. Just take one step outside of the zone and keep putting one foot in front of the other. Eventually, that zone will feel like a distant memory and you will be able to look at all the experiences you were able to have that shaped who you became.
I realize that this is all easier said than done, but I hope that this encourages you to try just taking one step. Broaden that horizon just a little and see how it shapes you. I’d love to hear about some of the ways you have stepped out of your comfort zone and how it shaped you as a person. Let me know in the comments!
I will be taking a short hiatus while I travel, but I will be back in two weeks to tell you all about the adventure. Thanks for all of your support!