We all have them.
Mine begins with writing, safe behind a screen, and ends abruptly at public speaking and networking in a room full of successful strangers.
You see, I know my limitations. I know them and I try every day to expand them.
Today, I went to 10 Downing Street (!!!). I was invited by an amazing networking group called DevelopHer and, to be honest, I was scared. As I handed my invitation to the policemen at the end of the street, I realised the intensity of what was happening. “Deep breaths,” I told myself, as I attempted to walk down Downing Street like it was any old road on any old day.
Me? 10 Downing St? Now there’s something I never expected to happen. Not now. Not ever. But it did. And it wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t left my comfort zone in search of something bigger than myself.
Truth be told, I’ve been on the pursuit of uncomfortable situations and life-changing things for a year or so now. I’ve put myself forward as the first to present, forced myself to speak up in male-dominated meetings and travelled as much possible, to places I never thought I’d see.
And I’m a hell of a lot happier for it.
To me, killing your comfort zone is about living a life of continual curiosity. It’s about not giving up when things seem hard, but persevering in the name of growth. It’s about having the conversations you feel you can’t, and trying the things that voice in your head says “aren’t for people like you”. Because that’s bullshit, and it’s time you started believing it.
Of course, there will be times when it’s easier to leave your comfort zone than others. When you’re rundown and burned out, you should spend some time in bed instead. But, when life and circumstance allow, I wholeheartedly suggest you expand and eventually kill your comfort zone a little more each day.
Identify the things that scare you. Make a list if you have to. Then start saying yes. To the things you’d normally avoid and the opportunities you’d normally dismiss. When it feels like you’re awkward and unsure, THAT is when it matters. That’s growth, right there.
Upon arrival at Number 10, I finally relaxed. The event was full of women just like me. If I’d stayed home that day, I would never have discovered the DevelopHer community and, my god, I’m glad I did.
Sometimes you won’t feel like getting dressed or putting your best face on and seeing people. You just won’t. And yet you should. Go to the event. Sign up for the networking opportunity. Apply for the role you’re not quite “ready” for. Embrace anything that makes you feel a little scared and uncertain. So often, the things that scare us are the things that change us for the better.
There’s a great Albert Einstein quote, “a ship is always safe at shore, but that’s not what it’s built for.” The same applies to you, my friend. You, with your brain, your body, your soul and your creativity, were built to live your best possible life, not a sheltered one.
There’s no fun to be found in leading a life that’s less than the one you’re capable of.
There’s no growth to be found in always staying home, doing the same old things.
Kill your comfort zone, one slightly uncertain step a time.