We find comfort in our daily routines, relationships and how our life is simply because it is what we know. It is our safe space, where we feel comfortable with who we are and how we have created our life. The problem is, by staying in that same place not challenging ourselves, we stagnate. We stay where we are because we are scared of the unknown – whether that unknown is horrible or great. And without those challenges, triumphs and failures, we are incapable of growth.
We may choose to stay in unfulfilling jobs, relationships and situations because it’s the devil we know versus the devil we don’t know. Some of us are so scared of being alone that we rationalize staying in relationships that aren’t healthy or where we aren’t happy. Why? Because it may be crappy, but at least we know what to expect. And we don’t have to be alone.
The truth is, when we venture outside of our comfort zone, we become vulnerable to rejection, failure or feeling alone. But the flip side is that we also create opportunities for ourselves to experience to acceptance, success and feeling connected to others.
When I was 15, I went on a youth group outing to learn how to rock climb…which was totally out of my comfort zone. I wasn’t very athletic, and my friends and I hadn’t really considered all that was involved in the process. In the middle of trying to scramble up the rocks, my feet and hands were incredibly sore, and I felt like I was just suspended along the rock face, with no idea how to pull myself up. I called out to the youth leader at the top of the rock to let me back down to the ground because I couldn’t make it up the rock. I was practically in tears. Thankfully, he pushed me to figure out how to do it. He told me that climbing up the rock face was as much mental as it was physical and that I could do it. After a while, I figured out how to get up to the top of the rock.
Hanging on the side of the rock taught me that I had much more mental and physical strength than I thought I had. I never would have discovered that about myself if I hadn’t gone on the outing or if the youth leader didn’t push me outside of my comfort zone when I wanted to give up.
While we grow by succeeding at new things outside of our comfort zone, we grow more by our setbacks, failures and disappointments. We learn more about what we are made of, what we are capable of, who we are and who we want to be through the dark times. If we want to reap the benefits of growth, we have to open ourselves up to the universe and all its possibilities.
It’s inevitable that we will feel fear while standing at the edge of our comfort zones, ready to take that leap into the unknown. You may find yourself wondering what if you fall when you step out of the known…but what if by doing so, you end up flying?