And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom. - Anais Nin
I believe myself to be a pretty courageous person. This is why I’m comfortable with public speaking, something many people fear more than death. This is why I don’t mind having conversations with strangers at the bus stop, even if the conversation itself is a little nonsensical (one guy tried to convince me he was a werewolf, and when I kept asking him questions he stopped, laughed, threw his arm around my shoulders and said, “You don’t scare easy, do you?”). But though I think I am fearless to catch a bus from 3rd & Bell after meeting up with friends for dinner in Belltown, when it comes to pushing myself out of my comfort zone in other areas of my life, I tend to hesitate – paralyzed with taking those brave steps into the unknown.
Part of it may be because of the questions that clamor for attention in my head. Am I considering all the risks? If I embark on this venture outside of my comfort zone, will I be okay if it fails? I consider similar risks I’ve taken, and the results of that – “Oh dear, Sasha. Do you remember the last time this happened? Are you sure you’re ready to welcome whatever comes?” And the fact of the matter is that I HAVE failed. Many times. (Often spectacularly!) But if given an opportunity to go back in time and have a do-over, to undo the failures that I have experienced… would I do it? No. Not a chance!
We have a yoga teacher who comes in to Verity once a week, David. Last Wednesday, as he was guiding us into a pose, he encouraged us to notice where the pose felt comfortable, where it felt uncomfortable, and to move back and forth between those two points. In doing that, in recognizing both comfort and discomfort, we would begin to expand what we could do, and be able to stretch further the next time.
This moving between comfort and discomfort planted seeds of understanding for me: both states are temporary in life. Where we feel discomfort, we must at times take a deep breath (or several) and consciously relax into what we’re feeling. We can recognize that it is how we are feeling, and we can choose to change it – either by moving back into a position of comfort, or stretching and challenging ourselves, gently but continually pushing ourselves until we uncover the truth – that the magic of life can only be found when we venture into the unknown.
The unknown is scary – it’s uncomfortable to go blindly into it. But it’s also exciting, right? And that discomfort can’t last. When I look to how I came to be in this world, my family’s history is punctuated with many great stories of adventures into the unknown. And for that I am grateful. I know that so much of it has to do with chance, but so much of it also had to do with my parents and grandparents being brave, being willing to face their fears head-on and explore what lay outside of their reach.
As we challenge ourselves to vacillate between comfort and discomfort, we can begin to grow. A whole new world can open to us, and we have an ability to challenge the future that was unfolding in front of us. If we’re paying attention to our journey, we’ll see the progress that we’re making. We can view each failure as a necessary step to get us closer to who we want to be. We can view fear not as a reason to not do something, but instead as a catalyst to go further and farther than we ever thought we could go. We always have the ability to change our lives, and the key is right there, beyond the border of comfort. Take a deep breath, and go for it. What are you afraid of?