Let Me Introduce Myself
Today I want you to feel comfortable with me, as if I am in the same room as you and you are really getting to know me. The reason I mention this is because it can be difficult relating to someone whom you have only met online, via reading their blog posts, tweets or checking out their websites, because they are in fact an unknown entity. Today is the day you will be able to relate to me, and know for sure that I am human like you. I have had and still do have, some of the same struggles, challenges, uncertainties in my life, as you do.
Me as a Child
I was a sickly child and suffered quite badly with asthma, so my Mother thought it best to treat me as if I was an invalid. She pushed me to infant school in a stroller for the first year, and I had a pacifier until I was at least 4 years old. As a very shy infant I found it difficult to ask for help from my teachers, even when I attended High School. My Mother thought she was acting in my best interests, which she was, but as I grew older I knew I had to be the change I wanted to see happen.
Me as a Mother to Four Children
As a stay at home Mother I had the time to watch my children grow and thrive, see their first steps and take them to dance, swimming, & judo lessons to name a few of the hobbies they enjoyed. I look back on those days as a gift, and even though there were many challenges along the way I was growing as a person. I began to change little by little into the person I always wanted to be. I knew I was a kind, caring, considerate, polite person, but I was still a pleaser and often to my own detriment.
Me in my new Country
After emigrating to Canada and the many challenges that followed the time had come when I had to escape my comfort zone. In fact it felt like I was jettisoned with no choice into a completely out of comfort zone where I was forced to rid myself of certain attitudes and behaviours
After not working for many years outside of my home I had to find a job that would help me keep a roof over my head, pay the bills and make sure my four children were fed and clothed. I ended up with three part time jobs, one of which was to become a full time job but without all the benefits and great pay to go with it!
I might not have looked petrified, and feeling way out of my comfort zone when I attended interviews, but I was shaking inside like jelly. Even when I worked at all three jobs I often felt lost in certain situations, especially when driving in areas unfamiliar to me, with no mobile phone, trying to sell vacuum’s. I would often get lost, in the dark, and panic would set in. I had no choice but to ask strangers for directions, otherwise I would have been driving around all night.
Fear Held me Back
When fear enters our life it holds us back. We question everything, every thought, every action. We lack trust and we back away and hide inside our heads until we can run for safety at the end of the day. We curl up in bed and we shake, and the panic takes over. Sadly we know we can’t escape and every day we are miserable, but put a smile on our face and we carry on. We have stepped outside of our comfort zone in a small way, but not enough to benefit us.
I can’t swim, even though it would have been wonderful for me as an exercise to help my lungs become stronger; my Mother thought swimming might be too much for me. So at 11 years of age I had no choice but to attend swimming lessons because my High School curriculum said so. The fear and panic would kill me, I was sure of it, but I protected myself and I stayed calm and quiet. I gingerly entered the pool and I clung to the bar at the edge and pretended I was doing what the teacher instructed. I knew if I was invisible to her she would not notice I could not let go. Even with the arm bands to keep me afloat, I did not have the trust to see if I could float in the water. In those days teachers in the UK only seemed to care about the students who excelled, so I managed to graduate High School without learning to swim or being asked if I needed help in that area.
It was not until many years later I worked out that I had always had a safety net, whether it was my parents, my teachers, my husband, my children, I always managed to stay safe within my comfort zone, just getting by.
Cancer changed my life forever, and not just in the sense that my body would never look or feel the same again.
I returned to school six months after a double mastectomy, the time had come to change my life forever, and I needed a new career. Being back at school even for one year bought back awful memories of my school days as a young girl, every day was a struggle to find my motivation and feel brave enough to get into my car and drive to school.
If I had known that I would literally jump straight to the end of my comfort zone within two weeks I would have probably stayed in bed and hid forever! Knowledge is power, but it can also hold us back. My Mother used to say “If we could see into the future, we would not want to, it would be too frightening”.
The realization came to me that I had been living within the parameters of my comfort zone, and I had never given myself a chance to reach my full potential. I knew this because there was a yearning inside of me, a feeling I had tried to ignore for many years, as if something was missing.
Opportunity Comes With Choices
A teacher who taught health and wellness classes knew my interest in that area so she invited me to speak in front of her students the following week. A class of 40, men and women, ranging in age from 16 up to 50.
I did not hesitate for a moment, it was as if I was being propelled along a tunnel and when I got to the end I knew I had reached the end of my comfort zone! I could see myself on a stage in the future, speaking to an audience of thousands, sharing my important message. This opportunity was the beginning of the rest of my life, my future. Obviously I had qualms, I had never spoken in public before, I was very shy, but this was definitely something that pulled me along, something I was meant to do.
My choice had been made, I was about to reach the end of my comfort zone!
Reaching The End of Your Comfort Zone
- Believe in yourself and know that whatever happens, it happens for a reason.
- Embrace the fear that surrounds you, make fear your friend.
- Commit to the future that you know you have always wanted.
It’s not easy stepping out of our comfort zone, and it’s even more difficult racing to the end of our comfort zone, but it can be done and you can do it.
- Plan – Make a list of what has held you back in the past. Fear, lack of finances, family, everyone has a different list.
- Prioritize – Put yourself first. If that means you have to walk away from the past, or the people who are holding you back, then that’s the reality. Once you have taken the first step you will be surrounded by support, love and help. Often the people in our lives fear for us, and that fear is passed on to us. My Mother is a great example. You are not hurting the people who tried to hold you back, it was done out of concern for your future.
- Prepare – When I felt my fear was taking over I prepared myself for that to happen. I made it clear to the fear that I was going to move forward. An excellent way to do this is to set goals, write down the process you will follow to create the new life that will be found at the end of your comfort zone.
Ultimately only you can find the end to your comfort zone, when you are ready, when you feel strong and you have the power, then you can do it. I have shared some examples of what held me back, or so I thought. Maybe I was not being held back? Maybe I was not ready?
I believe we actually do step out of our comfort zone more times than we think, but we don’t feel we have achieved the desired effect, which is actually when our life begins in earnest. That’s when we know we have found the end of our comfort zone. We will feel at peace with ourselves and more comfortable and secure.
Your life will truly change for the better when you have reached that place, and we all have different places to reach, none of us are on the same journey. Time is irrelevant, because you will know, it’s not something you can do because someone told you to, in your own time you will reach your goal.
“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone” author unknown.
As always I enjoy hearing from you, receiving your emails, phone calls or comments on here, thanks for supporting me in this way.