|Lovely group of ladies in my 400 Moons workshop|
About two years ago I received great advice from a friend of a friend. Possibly some of the best advice I have ever received because it resulted in such a fundamental shift in my life. It was that I needed to find a way, as often as I could, to completely step out of my comfort zone. At the time I had been a year into losing E, and having come through some pretty heavy changes was at a place where I thought I had actually made some big strides. And maybe I had, but when this suggestion was given to me I realized that as much as I wanted to believe I was moving forward fine, I actually was not. I am not sure what it was that this new friend saw in me, maybe insecurity or fear. Maybe the weight of sadness, or that I felt like a literal loser. Whatever it was I am grateful he saw beyond it and felt the need to share how he had moved through his own difficult phase of life. So I stepped back, took an honest inventory of myself, and decided that the insecurities and fear I was allowing to define my “safe boundaries” could benefit from a little shake up. And so I started small—dinner by myself, showing up to events I found interesting, signing up for classes. After a few times, I found that I spent less time on my phone while at dinner, or I stuck around a little longer at an event than I may have the week before. Before I knew it countless opportunities began to present themselves. So without thinking too much about it I would shut down any excuse I may have given myself to try something out of my comfort zone, and instead would buck up and show up anyway. Each time I walked away feeling a bit stronger, always glad that I participated, and almost always having met someone new. Connected with people. For someone who has so much Leo in her, I think I have always appeared and believed I was confident. And to some degree I suppose I was, but it was clearly not enough to bring me through layers and layers of loss and heartache. And that was okay. It would take a deeper transformation to do that, and thank God for it! I now know that it is always less scary on the other side. I had to rebuild a confidence based in faith and truth which I have learned is much stronger than one based in ego. And so sloooowwwllly I began to find self-confidence again. I began to drag myself out of a difficult period of time one new experience at a time. And what felt uncomfortable at one point, has now become a way of life. I have a list of people in my life a mile long, and experiences that are no longer paired with self-doubt. I can’t say I am 100% on top of my confidence game, but I am closer. In fact, I can maybe say for the first time in a long time, that I am content with myself.
I had a moment recently that reminded me of all of this. I taught a workshop last weekend—my second one to ever teach—and when it was all over I had a split second to step back and remember that there was once a version of myself that would never have done that. And if I had for some reason, I would have completely over thought it or allowed fear and anxiety to overshadow most of the positive that was coming from it. There are so many opportunities that I can look back over the past two years and see that had I not pushed my comfort zone boundary wider, I would never have experienced some of the things I did. And in turn gotten myself to the place where I am now. A reminder that every tiny step, or big leap that we take, matters. We may wish to be in a different place in our lives, but we have to find our way through the steps that are in front of us before we can really get to where we are going. And sure, maybe we move somewhere in the meantime, even if we are skipping ahead or staying behind. But are we only experiencing a small portion of it? What else are we missing? More importantly, what parts of ourselves are left undiscovered? Are these comfort zones that we have created for ourselves current with who we are now, and in line with what we are meant to be doing with our lives? I know for myself that mine were not. A world of grief had shut me down in a lot of ways, and there were some days I couldn't remember who I had been before all the loss. And all of that was okay too, I wouldn't trade any of it. It was just that it began to feel more uncomfortable to stay lost and remain in the grief than it did to take a chance. So I now know that few things truly scare me, and that opportunities to expand my soul are around every corner. I would encourage everyone to do this, no matter where you are in your life. Take a step out of your comfort zone, and then go two steps past that. And then another five past that! The possibility of who you might be will surprise you. And you might also find that you leave some of those stubborn fears and beliefs behind while picking up some new friends, skills, and experiences.