Stepping Out of Comfort Zone: Embracing Growth And Personal Development

Stepping Out of Comfort Zone: Embracing Growth And Personal Development
Photo by Ava Sol / Unsplash

This week, I did something out of my comfort zone! Approaching someone and striking up a conversation isn't usually my thing. I often find it easier to stick with familiar faces in a crowd and stay within my bubble. However, this week, I took the initiative to approach a stranger and engage in a full-blown conversation.

I had gone to the office on my work-from-home day to attend a retirement party of someone dear to me. This person has been with me on my journey from being a student trying to find my footing in a world far from all familiarity, to finding a job, getting promoted, and planning my career. He is the one who has witnessed my professional growth closely in the past few years and has always guided me in the right direction. Anyway, long story short, I was there to celebrate his retirement. I was surprised by the number of people who came to celebrate Him. It was definitely a testament to his character and his amazing career.

I was glad that amidst the crowd, there were people from my department with whom I could converse. Although I constantly remind myself to step out of my comfort zone and meet/talk to new people, I often talk myself out of it more frequently than I'd prefer. At some point, though, everyone I knew left, and I was all by myself. I had some time in between before I could leave, so I almost immediately turned on my laptop and sat to the side to check my emails.

I had listened to Rangan Chatterjee’s podcast the day before, and he had said something about striking up a conversation with a stranger and how that can have a positive impact on your confidence and self-esteem. I thought of the podcast, and I thought of the place I was in, and avoiding social interaction to check my emails did not feel right. I had been noticing this older guy on the other side of the room, and we had exchanged smiles earlier. So, I gathered some courage and went up to him and said, 'Hello!' As it turns out, the person I spoke to is also an alum of my graduate school and works in a field that aligns with my interests. I shared with him the projects I was working on, and he did the same. I added him on LinkedIn before I left, and it felt amazing. It was a pretty cool experience. A little bit of courage made me feel so good and I returned home happy!

The next morning as I sat down with my guided journal, I found one of the prompts that asked me to reflect on something I had recently done outside of my comfort zone. I wrote about the aforementioned experience, and at the end of my journaling, I felt so proud of myself for doing something that I would not normally do. I acknowledged the courage I had shown and wrote the following in my journal: 'I am so proud of myself. Way to go, girl!' And I thought- how often do we do that though? It’s so easy to always identify and think/talk about things we are not good at. But what about the things we are good at or trying to get better at? Often, we seek validation from others. But how about we give ourselves that pat on the back when we do something challenging?

I am known to be a hype woman for my friends, but recently, I have been learning to be a hype woman for myself too. I am learning to be my own coach rather than my worst critic. I am learning to acknowledge what I am not good at and how I am trying to overcome those weaknesses.

I read in a book that your brain perceives things you don’t do a lot as threats. However, as you do them more and more, your brain collects evidence that they're not threats anymore. The next time you perform the same action, your brain is cool with it. So, anytime I have to do something out of my comfort zone, I just remind myself that the next time I do it, it won’t be my first time anymore. Keeping that in mind has helped me take the first step towards many things that I fear. Even if I don't excel at them, I deserve a pat on the back for attempting it. And the next time, I do it again it's a little less scary than before.

So, my question to you is- What scares you? What is it that keeps you in your own bubble? Can you think of something you could do in the next couple of days, no matter how small it is, to step out of your comfort zone? Remember that once you do it, the next time won’t be your first time!

Well, good luck! You've totally got this! 😊

See you in the next blog post!