2017 has been the year of stepping outside of our comfort zones. Doing what scares us has been our goal and we have been quite happy with the results so far. The fears that terrify us the most are the ones we’ve focused on facing specifically in 2017. For me, I have focused on three specific fears, and I have conquered two thus far: heights and driving distances.
I’ve always been afraid of heights, yet I love hiking. Through out my life, after each hike, I suffer horrible nightmares and tell myself I’ll never climb that high again, but I would return, although always staying on the more cautious, safe trails. Everything changed this summer. The defining moment for me when I felt I had officially conquered this fear was during our National Parks trip out west. Hiking along the south rim of the Grand Canyon was life changing. I could have taken the more cautious trails, and enjoyed the views from a distance. This time though, I made a conscientious decision to challenge myself and I’m so glad I did! The external views were breathtaking, but more importantly, the internal view of accomplishment was beautiful.
My other fear has always been driving distances. Anything beyond a 15 mile radius was adventurous enough for me. Whenever I was forced to drive distances, I literally would have panic attacks–hands dripping with sweat on the steering wheel, stomach aches, heart racing–and crossing over a bridge–forget about it!
It wasn’t until this year that something switched in my mind and I decided I didn’t want to live the rest of my life depending on someone else to venture out on road trips. Rather than easing myself into it, with a trip to Ohio or Michigan, I planned a trip to Florida and we hit the road! Currently this year, we have gone on four road trips, and each one has offered me some of the most fulfilling moments of my entire life — memories, laughs, family bonding and many, many adventures. I can’t believe all of the missed opportunities I’ve let slip by over the years, but I’m not going to dwell in the past. I’m grateful I have conquered this fear and look forward to exploring every corner of our country and beyond!
What has terrified me most in my life, has given me the most joy this year. There is nothing more in life I love more than exploring the unknown and I’ve been able to do that while singing our lungs out and trekking along the side of a cliff with a feeling of freedom I’ve never experienced. All of these experiences far outweigh the paralyzing chains of fear that held me captive for so long.
If you are bound by a certain fear, think of all the missed opportunities you are letting slip away and don’t let your future self continue to miss out. Push through, take those fears and toss them to the wind. Whether it is telling a loved on how you feel, public speaking, meeting new friends, flying or even getting a new hair style, realize you have the potential!
Your true self and real life are out there waiting for you–beyond what you’re comfortable with. You have no idea what you are made of unless you dig deep into your fears and venture outside of the soft squishy bubble of comfort. If you are afraid of failing, realize that any attempt, no matter how small, is personal growth. For some, baby steps will get you there. For me, I had to rip the bandages off abruptly.
Staying inside of your comfort zone is equivalent to settling–settling for good enough, mediocrity and routine. It is allowing a thief to rob you of the authentic you that you are meant to be.
Staying in your comfort zone is too big a price to pay. Yes, it is safe and warm, but remember…absolutely nothing grows there.
As I mentioned, I have one more fear that I have yet to conquer. This one seems much more challenging than the others. It absolutely terrifies me. Baby steps seem colossal, but in my mind I am taking minute steps forward each day, although they are barely evident. It is an extremely slow process, and others may not understand my hesitation and challenges facing this fear, but my discomfort is not theirs to manage. Stepping outside of one’s comfort zone must be a personal journey and no matter who or what tries to help, it can only happen when you are ready. I do know the universe has amazing things planned once I allow my mind to take the leap. I just need to keep moving forward, celebrate the small victories, and realize there is so much more to gain than to lose.