I was having coffee with a friend the other day and we had a conversation that went something like this:
Me: I want to do something I’m afraid to do. You know, step out of my comfort zone. Something I wouldn’t ever think of doing, and just do it.
Friend: Sounds like a great idea. What do you have in mind?
Me: I think I want to get on a bus and go to Seattle for the day by myself, walk around, do some shopping, strike up conversations with strangers, stuff like that.
(Disclaimer: I’m an extreme introvert and homebody, and live out in the woods where my nearest neighbors have fur or feathers; so while this may not seem like a big deal for most normal folks, it would be a huge ordeal for me.)
Friend: Sounds good, you should do it.
Me: I will sometime. I’m afraid though. I’ve never been to Seattle by myself, and I’m afraid I’d get lost or something. There are so many people there, what if I get overwhelmed?
Friend (sympathetically): You can do it. Do you want me to go with you?
Then we both laughed because her going with me, of course, would defeat the purpose of my stepping out of my comfort zone. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been to the “big city” plenty of times with a friend or my family. I enjoy the city immensely, for a limited time anyway, but always with a companion.
But it got me thinking: it’s okay to have a friend help you step out of your comfort zone. As far as Seattle is concerned, I’m not a big fan of feeling alone in a large crowd of people, but it’s something I want to do to challenge myself. But having a friend accompany me on my day trips before I’m ready to take the “alone” plunge into a situation that is potentially uncomfortable — but challenging in a good way — is OK.
Despite my introversion, I do enjoy people and getting out and experiencing new things. Some things, that is. Several years ago, a group of friends invited me on an outing for pedicures all around. I had never had one before, or anything like it. I figured it couldn’t be too bad, everyone loves pedicures. Right?
I hated it.
I hated it so much. I was revolted by having a stranger touch my feet and mess with my toes. I was so turned off by it, I haven’t had a pedicure since. I’d never had a massage either because the thought of a stranger touching me was not appealing at all. I’ve had about a hundred folks tell me how amazing they are, but I just couldn’t do it. (Again, I realize I’m an oddball.)
Recently, a friend who is an essential oil consultant asked me to be her guinea pig; she’s in the process of becoming certified to practice an aromatouch technique.
I had no idea what that meant, but since she’s my friend, and I wanted to help her out, and I enjoy her company, I said, “Sure, why not?”
But when I showed up at her house at the appointed time and saw a massage table set up, I initially panicked a little.
But I went through with it. I mentally and physically prepared myself and lied down on the table, and she massaged oils into my back and feet.
And it was rather nice. She had soft music playing in the background. The lights were low. I almost fell asleep. It was my first massage, something I vowed I would never do. But I was completely comfortable with it because it was a friend giving the massage.
And a bonus: I went home smelling like “hippie oils” according to my kids.
If you’re having difficulty stepping out of your comfort zone, wanting to try a new activity or visit a new place, don’t be afraid to ease into it by asking for help from someone you trust and enjoy spending time with.
If the choice is between asking for and accepting support, and refraining from attempting something that will enrich your life, it’s time to ask your loved ones and friends for their guidance and encouragement.
I still haven’t taken that bus and strolled around Seattle by myself yet. But I look forward to going soon, and I’m not afraid of it anymore.
What is something you’ve tried that has placed you outside of your comfort zone?