How many of you are great at pushing the boundaries and getting out of your comfort zone?
I’m certainly not.
For most of my life, before I went to college, I wasn’t all too happy about socializing. I had my close group of friends and that was enough for me.
I didn’t like raising my hand in class to answer questions. Even though I knew I was right, I still doubted myself.
I was bullied relentlessly during middle school, and somewhat during high school. It was a relief when I went off to college, where most people were too busy with their own lives to care.
Unfortunately, the bullying left behind some scars. I still remember how humiliated I felt when people noted how pale I was, or how tall I was. (Seriously, guys. In what world is that really going to affect anyone?!) This post isn’t about letting them win, though. It’s about challenging myself to win.
Thankfully, the friends I made in college made me realize that there are nice people out there that won’t judge you based on ridiculous things like that. Of course, they were all just as awkward as me, or more. You could tell people were still judging us, but no one in the group cared. How freeing is that?
I was part of an orientation team my second year in college, and this is how I came to break out of my shell a bit. It was an awesome experience where all summer long, we met at the college, and bonded with each other to make sure we had the best team to introduce new students to our college.
It might sound cheesy, but there were moments of laughter, tears, and pride. We actually went away on a three-day retreat (in the middle of nowhere, upstate NY), where we were divided into teams and did various activities together.
One of them was a bit intense. We had several guest speakers at the retreat, and one of them decided to line all 60 of us up along a wall. He would then call out things we may have experienced (please step forward if you’ve been diagnosed with X), or traits (step forward if you’re good at Y) that described us. Let me tell you, there were definitely tears there, and we exposed some really personal things about ourselves.
But it made the whole experience worth it. Everyone was revealed to have some flaws. No one escaped being called out. It might sound harsh at first, but you could have “lied” and not stepped forward. However, there were so many strong individuals putting themselves out there, and as they returned to the line, hugs were being given all over the place. We felt a sense of unity after that.
What’s the importance?
After that experience, I definitely grew a bit, and that is one of the reasons I don’t regret going to college at all. If I hadn’t been a part of that group, I would likely still be extremely shy. I might not even be here, writing this!
I’ve always been a lurker; one to sit back on the sidelines and observe. Many introverts think participating is overrated. Sometimes that’s true. Other times, it’s not. If I hadn’t started this blog and commented on others, I would have been excluding myself from a great community.
But that’s just one step I’ve taken. Making friends in real life is a totally different story. I was “lucky” in the sense that I met a good friend out of that orientation group, that happened to be heavily involved with a club on campus. From that club came all of my friends.
Except I couldn’t take them with me when we moved! I mentioned last week that R and I were thinking of attending some meetup groups. While I’ve signed up for some, we have yet to take action. Mostly because some of them conflict with our schedule, and others are too far away. I am afraid that I’m going to start making excuses, though.
You may be wondering what the point of this post is by now. Truthfully, while I might have my finances under control, I do let myself slip when it comes to other things. Of course, we’re not perfect, and I know I need to push the boundaries where my personal life is concerned.
I’m not the most independent person out there, but that’s mostly because I like being comfortable. Where does that get me, though? We’ve been here for a month and a half now, and I can tell you it hasn’t gotten me far.
This normally would go with my goals for June, but I felt like posting it a bit early. I need to get out there and grab life by the horns. I am probably missing out on a few opportunities because I keep holding myself back.
I’m not just talking about friends, either. I’m talking about a career as well. I’ve never been a huge networker because I really don’t like contacting people out of the blue. I read job descriptions and after seeing five things that don’t apply to me, I stop looking. I always find an excuse to back down.
The truth is, I’m not happy, and it’s not hard to see why that is. We made this huge move, there are plenty of new opportunities here, and we’re not taking advantage at all.
I need to stop letting fear take over. I need to stop being irrational. What is the worst that can happen? Everyone deals with rejection, it’s part of living. Experiences enrich our lives, as long as we can find it within ourselves to bounce back. Quite a few good things have come of me pushing the boundaries already, and I need to keep them in mind for the future.
On that note, I also need to improve on being positive. I’m always thinking about the worst that can happen, and that never helps. Trying to be prepared for each possible thing that might occur is exhausting.
I am hoping holding myself accountable will work, because I’ve been taking the safe, well-worn path for far too long. I also hope that I can inspire some people to take leaps of faith that feel similarly. It’s difficult to break the mold and get out of your comfort zone, but you probably won’t be rewarded living an ordinary life.
When have you pushed the boundaries? When has it been the most rewarding, and what lessons have you learned from it? Do you struggle with putting yourself out there?