I was up the other night thinking about life, as we all do sometimes, and I did a lot of thinking about the “comfort zone” and how much time I spend in my own. I’ve thought about this a lot in recent times, only this time I decided to throw these thoughts on paper (or my laptop keyboard) and see what would come out.
It is said that we do our best work and make our biggest growths outside of our comfort zones. I’m familiar with the rewards of leaving the comfort zone as I’ve done so many times before, although I wouldn’t be able to count the amount of times I’ve been on the edge of my comfort zone without being able to push myself off. Leaving the comfort zone is not easy, but it is necessary to do so in order to grow.
If you were to ask me two years ago what my biggest fear was, I probably would have just said spiders. What I’ve learnt about myself over the past few years though is that I have a fear of failure. I’m afraid of being judged negatively, I’m afraid of rejection and I’m afraid of being laughed at. I’m afraid of getting things wrong, doing things the wrong way and saying the wrong things, which in my mind, all fall under the dark and constricting umbrella of failure. Sometimes this can be a positive, but most of the time it actually holds me back from things I want; I either end up procrastinating, or talking myself out of the situation. After learning this, it became clear that this fear is what holds me back from leaving my comfort zone.
During the first couple months of my A-level retakes – which I wrote about here – I began to realise how much of a trap the comfort zone can be. Before this, some time during year 13, I had my French teacher tell me that I need to have more confidence in myself. It made me think about how in being afraid to make mistakes and get things wrong, I was holding myself back. She said that my ability wasn’t the problem, I just wasn’t putting myself on the line enough. Later on I began to see that this was keeping me in my comfort zone.
“Feel the fear and do it anyway”
It means exactly what it says. I remember reading or hearing this somewhere, I don’t remember when or where but it has stuck with me ever since. Since then, I’ve slowly been developing the habit of recognising these uncomfortable situations in which I feel the fear and pushing myself into them. I’ve began trying to stop thinking about the possibility of failure and to just do it anyway, so I can leave my comfort zone more often. Now I try to respond positively to nervousness or unease, and look at such situations as opportunities for learning and growth rather than potential failures.
Before, I would have much rather not tried and not failed, than tried ten times and only succeeded six. Clearly, no failures is better than four failures, but six successes is way better than no successes, and the possibility of those four failures is what would hold me back. There are few things worse than missed opportunity and regret, which usually come as a result of not trying. I’m sure I’ve had more than my fair share as a result of my fear of failure and to be honest, I’m tired of both which is why I’m actively trying to outgrow it.
So what’s the point of what I’m saying? This is nothing more than a simple case of me thinking out loud. I feel it’s important to reflect on ourselves from time to time and these thoughts are an example of me doing just that. As I’ve said before, I’m not trying to be motivational or wise, I’m just sharing my thoughts and experiences with those of you who choose to read and may be able to relate to them. Maybe you yourself are a victim of your comfort zone. If so, what are you doing to escape it? If it’s not your comfort zone, what is holding you back and what are you doing to overcome it? Let me know by leaving a comment below.