Stepping out of one comfort zone, to find myself in another…

February 3, 2018

 

A few days ago I found myself in a meeting where a very familiar feeling came over me. Perhaps you’ll recognise it.

 

I was the youngest in a room full of older, more experienced, more senior people. I felt completely out of place. Like my seat at the table was going to be snatched from beneath me at any second. I was just a small girl, surrounded by a sea of much ‘adultier’ people.

 

Have you ever been there?

 

I’ve been thinking back to that meeting and why it put me so far out of my comfort zone. It wasn’t my first ever client meeting and it certainly wasn’t the most formal or corporate. It just seemed that, at that moment, being surrounded by people who basically do the same stuff as me but who appeared to have many more years in the game really took me out of my comfort zone.

 

But then, that’s why I went freelance in the first place. I recognised that if I really wanted to build the kind of life for myself that I wanted, and become this almost evolved form of myself, I had to spend a lot of time out of my comfort zone.

 

I guess that’s why the situation was such a surprise for me. I thought I was already outside my comfort zone. But it turns out, I was squarely within a new one.

 

Let’s rewind for a second.

 

When I quit my cushy 9–5, I spent weeks panicking about the decision and feeling completely out of my depth. I kept reading those quotes that say something like “Do something that scares you every day” to give myself the courage to go through with it.

 

Fast-forward to the present day, and it appears as though the things that weren’t comfortable to me before (like not having a steady income and having to find and pitch clients) have become my new comfort zone.

I guess that’s just the thing with comfort zones. They’re like muscles. The more strain you put them under, the more they will grow.

Being outside my new comfort zone now has come as a bit of a shock. Mostly because I didn’t see it coming. But also because that all-too-familiar feeling of being out of my depth and having to step into some big girl shoes has returned.

 

I call it growing pains.

 

You know when you go through puberty and you sometimes get achy joints because your body is growing? That’s what my mind is going through right now. I’m outside my comfort zone once again and it is, unsurprisingly, not comfortable.

 

Now, I’d like to say that I’m embracing the feeling with an attitude of “Yeah! Let’s do this!” but in truth, part of me wants to run screaming back into the cosy confines of my past comfort zone. I’ve spent the last few hours pacing around and second-guessing every decision I’ve made up until this point.

Which is a good sign that I’m probably right where I need to be!

In a way, I feel irritated that I had this second comfort zone that I now need to break out of. I went into freelance life to grow and develop myself. How did I end up falling into some kind of freelance-complacency so quickly?

It’s funny how quickly your mind and body can adapt to new situations if you let it. In little over three months I swapped one comfort zone for another, and now I’ve been thrown out of yet one more.

 

Have you ever noticed how much teenagers eat?

 

Growing takes phenomenal amounts of energy. The same applies to growing outside of your comfort zone. If anything, that’s probably why I settled so happily into my new comfort zone. But I’m glad I’ve been shoved out of it now. Again, like muscles, your comfort zone needs to be pushed regularly.

I keep getting all these fears swimming around in my head. They pop up at the most random times. Sometimes when I’m working, or in bed, or doing the dishes. That’s how I know I’m on track. If I’m scaring myself, I’m most likely challenging myself too.

 

Is there an end game to all of this? 

 

Probably, but I can’t see it yet. I just know that I have to grow and keep developing myself. That means stepping outside of my comfort zone and not letting myself settle into it. As I continue to grow, the size of my comfort zone will keep up. I just need to make sure I’m always one step in front of it. Not being fully comfortable, always feeling challenged. How about you?

 

Probably, but I can’t see it yet. I just know that I have to grow and keep developing myself. That means stepping outside of my comfort zone and not letting myself settle into it. As I continue to grow, the size of my comfort zone will keep up. I just need to make sure I’m always one step in front of it. Not being fully comfortable, always feeling challenged. How about you?

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