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.

pushing the boundaries

Slight improvements

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?



  1. Shoeaholicnomore May 30, 2014 at 9:09 AM

    Hi EM – Thanks for sharing this with us. I too am a pessimist by nature. I am trying really hard to be more positive in my life and SLOW DOWN a little bit to enjoy the little pleasures in life. (I was inspiried by Little Miss Money at The Pursuit of Riches.) I am pretty outgoing, if I’m comfortable, but in too large a group of people I don’t know I sometimes clam up. It can be hard to make friends in a new location. I’m not even in a new location, I moved back to my hometown after college, but my friends from here didn’t move back and now I’m forced to find new/different people to hang out with. This is made more difficult because I’m usually the youngest everywhere I go (by at least 10-15 years). It’s a work-in-progress, we’ll both get there if we keep working at it :)

    1. E.M. May 30, 2014 at 1:44 PM

      I like her posts, too! It certainly is hard to break out of a mindset you’ve been in for so long. I guess I was jaded fairly early on in life, and it carried on from there. I know I have a lot to be grateful for, though, and things could certainly be worse, so I try to focus on that. There are good things in store for us, I’m sure!

  2. Tonya@Budget and the Beach May 30, 2014 at 9:34 AM

    There is a high school program where I’ve seen people do that exercise too…called crossing the line or something? Anyway, it helps people connect and feel relatable to each other, and see that we are sometimes unfairly judging other people because we really don’t know them. Anyway, I’m introverted too. It totally depends on what it is on whether or not I push the boundaries. There are some areas where I do really well, and some I need work. I wouldn’t worry too much about making friends. Those things take time..they really do. It took me a long time to find my groove both when I moved to Seattle from Detroit, and to LA…but you will!

    1. E.M. May 30, 2014 at 1:39 PM

      I wish more programs like that would surface. I can see that being really powerful in high schools! Thanks for the reassurance. I think making friends is a bigger deal for me than R – he can interact with his coworkers, but as I’m here at the apartment alone, it can get a little boring! There is a social event next week where 80 people are going already, and I know it will be a good opportunity. I just tend to get claustrophobic around crowds!

  3. Mrs. Southbound Savers May 30, 2014 at 9:55 AM

    That “please step forward if..” sounds like Challenge Day. Some high schools participate and I’ve read that it really helps with group bonding ( Luckily I’ve never been bullied but I have seen what scars it can leave on people. People can be so mean sometimes.
    I recognize a lot from your post and it’s given me inspiration to be more proactive. I have a very strong INTJ personality ( and most social events just leave me exhausted. I have the feeling that it is holding me back, especially at work when people are networking constantly and are joining all sorts of social events at conferences. Thanks for the inspiring post and keep us updated on your goals.

    1. E.M. May 30, 2014 at 1:37 PM

      That is awesome! I think it would be really valuable in middle schools and high schools. I always forget what profile I am, I just know it’s IN__. There used to be a time when I didn’t even want to hang out with friends or go to parties as I would get tired even thinking about it. I’m glad I at least got over that, as there are some fun times to be had that I was missing out on. If I talk myself into things they usually turn out okay.

  4. Shannon @ Financially Blonde May 30, 2014 at 11:42 AM

    I was bullied when I was in middle school for being a geek and then I went to an all-girls high school and really gained a great deal of self-esteem from the experience. Since high school, I have always pushed myself and strived for bigger things. I have failed and I have sat in bed and cried over getting let down, but we are not defined by our failures, we are defined by how we continue to move forward. I know you are scared, but as you are feeling, it is more painful to live in fear than to live.

    1. E.M. May 30, 2014 at 1:31 PM

      That’s interesting the switch to an all-girls school helped you. I’m a firm believer that being a geek/nerd is awesome. I wouldn’t say that I live perpetually in fear – I know others have social anxiety that are *much* worse, but you’re right. It’s not worth it to live like that – we need to make the most out of our experiences.

  5. Even Steven May 30, 2014 at 12:08 PM

    Hi EM,

    I’m probably more on the other side of this coin, I probably put myself out there too much and have to bring it back in. I’m a gambler, talker, and risk taker, which can make things a little to exciting sometimes!

    1. E.M. May 30, 2014 at 1:29 PM

      One of my good friends from college is like that. He is really loud and obnoxious, but it’s almost an endearing characteristic. You can count on him to be a little crazy. At least you might be energizing those around you!

  6. Debt Busting Chick May 30, 2014 at 12:30 PM

    I am so sorry that you were bullied in school, it’s the most awful thing and you never forget it really. I was bullied in school, mainly by boys because I was really skinny. They used to make me cry all the time, then I grew up and those same boys started asking me out on dates. What? I told those loser where to go…

    Putting yourself out there can be difficult, especially if you hate rejection like me. In some ways I do put myself out there and in other ways I don’t. I guess that’s the side I too need to work on.

    1. E.M. May 30, 2014 at 1:27 PM

      Nice! They deserved that. I did get that at some points as well. People thought it was amusing to accuse me of being anorexic. I’ll never understand.

      I’ve become slightly better at making small talk with people and not being as shy, but I still have tons of room for improvement. My mom is the exact opposite and I try to look to her for inspiration.

  7. DC @ Young Adult Money May 30, 2014 at 12:38 PM

    I definitely can relate to you not wanting to raise your hand in school. I don’t know why that was so difficult! I also am not a social person and I haven’t networked as much as I should have in the past. I started to interview for jobs and I feel like I’m really putting myself out there. It’s essentially being “judged” as to whether or not you are the right person for the job. Is anything worse for an introvert? Anyway I also need to put myself out there more. I’m glad you wrote this post because it’s gotten me thinking about these things.

    1. E.M. May 30, 2014 at 1:25 PM

      I know, it was ridiculous. Half the time the class sat in silence while the teacher was waiting for an answer (not that I’m a genius, I just actually did my work). Doubt held me back so much. Interviews are another beast. I’ve tried to find my confidence in knowing that I am a great worker and dedicated to learning new things, but there are some intimidating people out there. Glad you found the post helpful!

  8. Broke Millennial May 30, 2014 at 1:55 PM

    This post is a great start. It’s a way to make yourself accountable for trying to make those changes — perhaps joining those social groups with R or applying to a few jobs even though you don’t fit every qualification.

    I really enjoyed this peek into your life and it serves as a good reminder to always be pushing ourselves and trying something that makes us a little uncomfortable. On a sillier note, mine is to try a salsa class with Peach in August when he moves to NYC for student teaching. Neither of us know how to salsa, but it’ll be a fun experience!

    1. E.M. May 31, 2014 at 11:13 AM

      Exactly! Giving myself little nudges over the next month or so will hopefully result in a bigger push down the road. I just have to make sure I don’t settle for complacency.

      That’s awesome Peach is moving to NYC! You two must be excited =). I totally want to try a dancing class with R at some point. It look does like fun!

  9. anna May 30, 2014 at 2:42 PM

    I’m sorry to hear you were bullied in junior high and high school – I got picked on, as well, and I agree those scars can last through adulthood. It takes a lot of practice (and sometimes I revert), but I’ve often found that when I smile or say hi to others, people more often than not reciprocate. I started doing that in my late 20’s, and over time it becomes easier (though there’s still some situations where I still get awkward). I’m glad you’re acknowledging the desire to put yourself out there – be patient with yourself and just allow for these incremental changes. You’ll get there, and I hope you find some happiness that way. :)

    1. E.M. May 31, 2014 at 11:08 AM

      Thanks Anna. At least we turned out rather awesome, right? =) I think smiling and saying hi is a great idea. Most people appreciate it, and those that don’t are probably just miserable. I’m finding that people down here are a bit friendlier; R and I were walking through a really nice community and many people were waving to us. They probably thought we lived there (we wish), but it was still nice.

  10. Done by Forty May 31, 2014 at 7:17 PM

    Thanks for writing this post, EM. I’m an extrovert by nature so I usually don’t have any problem mixing with groups of people. But I tend to keep it pretty superficial, too, which is a way of playing it safe and keeping people at a distance, even if it doesn’t appear that way.

    1. E.M. June 2, 2014 at 2:56 PM

      Yes, I do find that if I have to be in such a situation, I’m pretty superficial, too. I’m not horrible with small talk, but it’s also not very fulfilling!

  11. Zee @ Work-To-Not-Work May 31, 2014 at 11:50 PM

    I’m definitely an introvert at heart. But I’ve learned to hide it well when I need to. Certain situations like work and such people think I’m very outgoing when on the inside I cringe every time I get a meeting request where I have to talk to people. The other day at work I was actually nominated and put on our companies “fun room committee” (we just moved offices and we have an actual dedicated fun room now, I get to help pick out what goes in it.)

    It’s a weird contrast to me, I hate putting myself out there but when I do I usually enjoy it. I always seem to get positive reinforcement but something inside me tells me that I shouldn’t do it. I want to change and I try to change, but I never feel comfortable with it.

    1. E.M. June 2, 2014 at 2:55 PM

      I have had a similar experience, where people encourage me, and I have fun, but it still feels like I’m at odds with myself. It’s as if there’s a little part of me that keeps resisting and it won’t go away. I hope you enjoy the new fun room at least!

  12. Lauren June 1, 2014 at 10:38 AM

    I have struggled similarly in the past. Dealing with such a big change like a move to a new place can be hard- there’s always going to be a period of adjustment. Don’t be too hard on yourself :) If finding a new job is really overwhelming, maybe start off small and look for something part-time at first. That would be a good way to start meeting people without getting too overwhelmed.

    1. E.M. June 2, 2014 at 2:53 PM

      My issue with looking for a job is that I feel as though I’m capable of so much more than what it looks like I have to offer on paper. I have limited office experience, which doesn’t do me much good. This is where I hope that “networking” and putting myself out there will help. So many people say it’s who you know, and I do believe that it’s true.

  13. debs (@debtdebs) June 1, 2014 at 3:29 PM

    Awww so hard to hear when people are not comfortable or get bullied. This is what happened to my daughter and it’s left it’s scars. Truth be told, I used to be quite an extrovert, but I’m finding as I age I’m becoming more introverted.

    You have such an engaging personality, EM, try not let your fears hold you back. Baby steps and small goals will help you. :-)

    1. E.M. June 2, 2014 at 2:51 PM

      Thanks Debs. I’m sorry to hear your daughter went through the same thing. I don’t really understand why some people are so cruel. It’s interesting that you think you’re becoming more introverted, though.

  14. NZ Muse June 1, 2014 at 11:15 PM

    I always have been – still am – terrible at speaking up. Getting better, slightly, but eve just the other day I convinced myself not to do so because it was a very similar point to another that had just been made, but then someone else voiced exactly what I had been going to say and everyone nodded along.

    1. E.M. June 2, 2014 at 2:49 PM

      I feel like that happens to me all the time! I’m inches away from saying something, but I’m not sure if it will really add value, and then someone else says it and they’re just fine.

  15. Raquel@Practical Cents June 2, 2014 at 10:56 AM

    I have struggled also with putting myself out there. Especially when I was younger. As you get older you do gain more confidence but I’m still an introvert. I like being an observer though. There are benefits to letting other people speak and by listening more many times they reveal who they really are.

    1. E.M. June 2, 2014 at 2:47 PM

      I agree! There’s nothing wrong with being an observer. I am hoping I gain a bit more confidence as I get older. I also think the older you get, the less you tend to care about what others think of you.

  16. SarahN June 3, 2014 at 3:38 AM

    I do and I don’t struggle with putting myself out there. I often seem like I have no fear at work, and won’t double take to be the only woman in a room/conference/depot of men. Just doesn’t worry me. But I know I struggle with socialising with women, on a more general level. I always feel I might break some unsaid rule of being a good ‘girl’ or ‘friend’ – and that comes from my schooling. Since then, I’ve been myself almost 100% and had no apologies if people didn’t like that I was ‘pretty’ or ‘princessy’ and sometimes I’m both, but less often.

    I think it’s great your planning these meet ups. And I think with R it’ll be easier. I started ‘again’ when I moved to Uni here in Sydney, and am astounded how I made friends – school is good like that. But I naturally join things like water polo no matter where I am, and try to fill my time a little so I’m not a hermit. Let me assure, it’s not always easy… yikes, in France, there was the language just to start with.

    You can do it!

    1. E.M. June 4, 2014 at 8:55 AM

      Getting along with guys has been much easier for me, too. I guess it’s because they tend to be more easy-going! I can’t imagine moving to a different country on my own and having to learn the language as well. That would be pretty overwhelming. I am grateful I have R – knowing that we were in this together made the move a bit easier.

  17. Debt and the Girl June 3, 2014 at 5:49 AM

    I can relate to this post in a lot of ways. I am kind of shy and not that social as well. I think a lot of people who blog tend to have quieter personalities and writing is their way to cope. Writing is really an out let for me.

    1. E.M. June 4, 2014 at 8:53 AM

      Writing has always been an outlet for me. I remember keeping a diary/journal when I was about five!

  18. Lisa E. @ Lisa vs. the Loans June 3, 2014 at 5:35 PM

    I used to lead retreats for the youth at my church and whenever we did that line up activity, it was always to beautiful to see people get vulnerable and accept each other despite all the “flaws”. I think I’m always fearful of what people think of my when I try to reach out and be friendly, but I need to get over that!

    1. E.M. June 3, 2014 at 9:36 PM

      I’m glad to hear others have experience with it! It’s difficult, but I think most people appreciate friendly interactions. It sounds silly, because when I ask myself if I would be bothered by receiving an email or something, the answer is no!

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  20. MakintheBacon June 8, 2014 at 6:07 PM

    I used to be the same way when it came to job descriptions, but now when I read them, I think I may not be qualified in everything, but I do have some transferrable skills. I try to see potential in every job I’m interested in.

    I’m a lurker and kind of still am. I swear, I have social anxiety. I have this huge fear of meeting new people and making small talk. I get all nervous and my breathing becomes very short and rapid.

    1. E.M. June 8, 2014 at 8:55 PM

      I do think it’s worthwhile to think about the skills you already have, and turning them around to apply to jobs you’re interested in. It takes some creativity, but it’s a good practice to get in!

      I don’t get anxious as much as I just kind of withdraw. It takes a lot for me to go up to people and even ask a question.


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