I seem to have lost it…
I used to think of my comfort zone as a safe place. Every day, business as usual… the same old boring routine. I knew what to expect and how to handle it.
What I eventually realized is my comfort zone was a very dangerous place. I stayed inside, allowing it to restrict my personal growth and prevent me from reaching my true potential.
So, what makes me uncomfortable? Probably the same things that make you uncomfortable.
I’m a fairly quiet person, almost shy. Most writers are to some degree, I think. It’s easier to hide behind a keyboard and work through what I want to say and how to say it, than it is to actually talk to someone. Like, a real person… in person. Yeah, over the phone can be a little stressful too. I’ll inevitably say something wrong or embarrass myself, and that’s it… no backspace, delete, or undo buttons to save the day.
Of course I have a family and friends—I’m a fairly normal person, after all. We talk and do things together, but that’s different. And, even with them, I’m still more comfortable keeping most of my thoughts to myself.
You’re probably wondering why on earth someone like me would choose to write. Why would I put my deep-dark secrets, innermost thoughts, and personal creations out there for anyone and everyone to see… and to judge?
Wow, great question! When you put it that way, maybe I need to take a moment here and rethink things… nah, just kidding.
A year or two ago, I probably would have said you’d raised a valid point. I may have even used it as an excuse to hold myself back. So, how did I go from hiding in a corner to dreaming about best sellers and red carpets?
Writing is a great way to express myself and communicate with people from a safe distance. When I write, my fictional characters are telling their made-up stories and breaking all the rules; and I get to hide in the background. Stay in my comfort zone.
That’s liberating! Now this shy gal can speak up. Well, at least in written form… about fictional things.
Just like you, when I finally found something I loved doing, I wanted more. The more I wrote, the more I wanted to keep going. Before long, I started wondering if I could actually write a whole novel. And, while I’m being greedy, I wanted to publish it too.
But wait, that means I would actually have to tell people I’m a writer, and I’d have to let them read what I’ve written. That’s a terrible idea!
Maybe, but it was an idea that wouldn’t go away. I had to try. That created the first crack in the walls of my comfort zone.
I started this journey one year ago. With that anniversary looming, and my novel still not finished, I thought back, wondering what I had managed to accomplish in all that time. The answer surprised me.
In the process of learning how to write well and craft a good story, I’d learned how to push myself far beyond the boundaries of my old comfort zone. Those walls that had cracked, were now obliterated.
I’ve come clean with some friends about being a writer. I’ve shared my writing with other people. I’ve been criticized… and survived. I’ve learned to put myself out there as an author, on social media, my own blog, and by adding comments to other authors’ posts.
I’ve had extremely awkward conversations with fellow writers, all in the name of creating a good story, that I’ve managed to get through and learn to enjoy… behind the shield of my keyboard and a thousand miles, but it’s still progress.
I’ve even had to accept that no matter how much I hate pictures of myself, people want to see the person behind the words they’re reading. And yes, there is a photo on this website… finish reading the article first, then you can go find it.
All of these experiences have helped me grow as a person and as an author. I’ve wandered so far out of my comfort zone, I don’t think I could ever find my way back; and that’s a good thing, because I don’t want to go back. I’m more confident, more outspoken, and more likely to fight for what I want than I was a year ago.
I’ve learned that when I’m comfortable in what I’m doing, I’m not challenging myself enough. I’ve even learned to appreciate and welcome the queazy feeling that accompanies breaking down the walls of my comfort zone. I may need to breathe into a paper bag a few times to get through some of my personal barriers, but I’m ready.
What are you waiting for? Push those boundaries, tear down your walls. It’s up to you to become the person you want to be. —CJ