~my thoughts about life~

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Comfort Zone

Lately, I've been learning to step outside of my comfort zone.  You see, I'm not a very confident person.  As a child, I was so ridiculously shy that I wouldn't look at or speak to anyone.  I have so many memories of my mom telling me things like, "Say thank you," or "Look at people when you talk to them."  She gave me a lecture before each birthday or Christmas telling me to show excitement when opening a gift.  Instead, I would typically open it and look at it, nodding my head.  Inside, I was so thrilled and loved the gift with all my heart.  My brother was the exact opposite.  He literally did cartwheels while hooting and hollering.  Later, he would confess to me that he didn't really like the gift, he was just trying to act appreciative.  One day, I realized that people liked my brother more than they liked me.  Of course, my family all loved me.  But they liked him better.  He was much more enjoyable to be around.

Fortunately, I outgrew that stage.  By then, I was an awkward teenager who thought I was stupid, ugly, fat, dumb, and boring.  (Isn't that quite normal for teenage girls though?)  I thought all my friends were better, prettier, and more popular than I was.  I remember something so clearly from when I was about 13.  A large group of us spent the day at an amusement park.  One of the adults brought along her younger brother, who was adored by us all.  He was older, tall, cute, and friendly.  I was so nervous around him that I could barely speak.  Later, his sister mentioned to my mom that he thought I was the prettiest but my cousin was the nicest.  It was like someone jabbed a stake in my heart.  It was then that I made up my mind that I had to develop a personality if I wanted to have any kind of life.

So I did.  I became friendlier and more talkative, even though it was forced.  I often felt like my jokes weren't funny and that people were secretly rolling their eyes at me.  I didn't feel like I was quite up to par but I tried to push through it.  Eventually, I gained the attention of a certain gorgeous, young man who later became my husband.  His interest in me was the best thing ever for my self-esteem.  It took me years to realize that he truly loved me and wasn't just being polite.  I recently found my high school composition notebook that I wrote shortly after we started dating.  It's funny- so many journal entries were about how he was too good for me and that I didn't deserve him.  As a teacher, I would have read those entries and thought Wow, that girl needs some serious help.

Today, I am a pretty confident person.  Well, I try.  I can easily carry on conversation with a group and can even approach a stranger to begin a conversation.  I still hate public speaking, yet I'm in charge of a teenage girls' group at my church.  With them, I can be myself and can even act goofy when I'm lecturing them.  I organized a banquet with those girls that had about 200 in attendance.  I welcomed the guests and spoke in front of the crowd.  I still don't like it, but I do it.

Last weekend, I hit a milestone.  I sang my first solo in church.  Now, I know I'm not a good singer.  I am a good alto and can carry a part without being thrown off by the others in the group.  But I don't have a pleasant sounding voice.  At the insistence of the group leader, I finally relented and agreed to sing a 12-word solo.  My hands were shaking to the point that I could barely hold my microphone.  When I began singing, I wasn't sure if my voice was actually coming out.  Then I finally heard it through the monitors.  I had to close my eyes because I struggled looking at the 500+ people in front of me.  When it was over, my belly did a flop and I continued with the song.  I was still anxious for the song to be over and nervous that the leader would signal for me to sing that verse again.  But I survived.  I am still standing here today and I am glad that I pushed myself to do it.

The fifty compliments I received after the service were almost embarrassing.  Many of those people know my background and understand how hard that was for me to do.  But most of them wouldn't have handed out a compliment that wasn't deserved.

This post is about pushing yourself to step out of your comfort zone.  Since I've been participating in this commenting challenge, I have noticed so many bloggers that mentioned they are bold on their blogs but very shy in person.  A lot of these people have noticeable low self-esteem.  But they pushed themselves to step out of the comfort zone and begin writing a blog.  That was one of the first steps for me.  I had to open up and let go of my venerability.  I was nervous for people to see how I write.  What if I spell something wrong?  What if I use a big word the wrong way because I truly don't understand its meaning?  What if I violate my biggest pet peeve and accidentally use the word "your" when I meant "you're?"  You know what?  Who cares?!  If someone is going to skip out on my blog for one of those reasons, that is fine!  For every one of them is another person who appreciates the goofiness in my writing.  I stepped out of my comfort zone.

I think that everyone has to do that at some point in their life if they want to achieve true potential.  If we all sit idly by and remain inside our comfort zone, we will never have pride, achievement, or success.  So today, find a way to step out of your comfort zone and do something that's good for you!

What have you done recently that required you to leave your comfort zone?


Kristy said...

My comfort zone issues are coming out next week. :/ I have to go live in Little Rock for 2 weeks to teach at a gifted camp. Kids I don't know, a town I don't know, away from my hubs and babies. Sigh. Once it's over, I'll be glad I did it, but right now, I'm almost sick inside.

I'm so glad that I could meet you! Your posts are so good!! :)

The Carters said...

Congrats on your solo!!

Meghan said...

I definitely kept to myself during High School, I wasn't interested in getting drunk or high, or becoming another teen pregnancy statistic, but I have really come out of my shell in college, I have a great group of friends that I act myself around, and couldn't imagine surviving my program without them. I think I'm the opposite of most bloggers, I am very outgoing in real life, but can sort of be shy on my blog or in commenting on others' blogs. This commenting challenge has been a great way to help with that! Thanks for visiting my blog, I hope you'll come back(:

Newest follower(:

Cory said...

This was such a great post. Blogging does give people a way to be a little bolder for sure. Not too long ago I was able to meet alot of blogging friends, and it was so odd to me that a few of them sat quietly around the table, quietly eating their food, barely looking up from their plate. I felt bad for them cuz they really have alot to offer. It is good to get out of our comfort zones. I had panic so bad at one point in my life (for years) in my late teens and early twenties that I couldn't leave my house, but I also eventually could NOT live like that so I pushed myself to change. I only wish I had done it sooner, but I really believe that I am exactly where I am suppose to be in life too. That is not an excuse to not reach and stretch in life, but I just believe that God knew I wasn't ready then or something. :) Ha! Great Blog.