A quote that has been sticking in my mind lately is “great things don’t come from comfort zones”. I’ve fairly mindlessly posted variations of it on my Instagram for years, but rarely adhere to my own motivational aspirations. The truth is, I fucking love my comfort zone. If I didn’t having the nagging, perpetual reminder that nothing good grows by staying in it, I would set up shop in my comfort zone and live there forever. Routine, order, and the expected are what I have always loved to hang my hat on, but I’ve finally honed in on something I love even more: personal growth.
As I get older, I feel the days passing at an increasing speed, and my mom is constantly reminding me that “time only goes faster and faster!”. My fear now is not so much of change, but of staying the same. I don’t want to be the girl I was last year. I want to be better, smarter, more self-aware. I want to push through things I used to tiptoe timidly passed, I want to conquer situations I used to avoid with a vengeance.
A friend of mine recently started a blog – 52 Weeks of Fear – in which she plans to conquer one of her fears every week, for one whole year. I was, to say the least, inspired. And although I would love to commit to something as substantial as that, I know myself, and know that I need to dip my toe in something before I jump all in. So, last week I committed to if not vanquishing, then at least facing, one fear every single day. Was it the most fun week I’ve ever had? No. I became accustomed to my cheeks burning, my heart hammering, and an overwhelming fog of uncertainty clouding my thoughts. However, I also was acquainted with some feelings that caught me by surprise: satisfaction, pride and a different kind of confidence in myself.
Here’s how my 7 days of fear played out…
Monday – Fear of Gaining Weight. As my first order of business, I conquered a fear that may seem trivial and superficial to some, but is one that has kept me handcuffed to certain food choices and routines, for years. A concoction of my less-than-stellar cooking skills, obsession with being “healthy” and lack of time in my schedule, I pretty much eat the exact same things, Monday – Friday. The thought of “treating myself” for no good reason, in the middle of the week is simply not something I would ever consider. On this Monday, and to kick off my fear-busting week with a bang, I decided to have a cherry cheese Danish and French vanilla latte from Tim Hortons FOR BREAKFAST. Doesn’t seem like a big deal to you? The mental mind-fuck that my eating disorder has gripped me with for a decade says differently. Even though it is less present in my life, it still whispers in my ear from time to time. Letting myself live without “food rules” is still something I aspire to, one cherry-cheese-Danish at a time.
Tuesday – Fear of Being Judged. This is a fear I have been facing repeatedly and consistently since I’ve started this blog. I am naked when I write, for better or for worse and sometimes, I wonder if I expose a little too much. I had had last week’s “This Is What Happens When You Cheat On A Girl” blog in my drafts for a long time, partly ashamed and partyly terrified to share such a painful part of my world. What if people thought I was pathetic? What if they thought I was oversharing something so personal? The response following the post quieted all those insecurities instantly. Connection is what the human soul craves most, and shared experiences truly have a way of bridging all walks of life.
Wednesday – Fear of Uncomfortable Situations. Day 3 – I went on a blind date! Like not completely blind, but I cringe at the thought of an hour spent in awkwardness. I’d never been on one, so I yolo’d the shit out of it. And if youre wondering? This fear was worth facing.
Thursday – Fear of Losing Control. I did a photo-shoot with someone I didn’t know. As I’ve mentioned many times, I hate having my photo taken. I am so hyper-critical of myself, that handing over the power to someone I don’t know, or trust was probably the most terrifying of the week.
Friday – Fear of Failure. No one likes to fail, so this is such an obvious, all-encompassing fear. Instead of taking on some huge challenge right out of the gate, I instead chose to mildly test myself first. I decided to throw on the extra 45 pound weight on my squat bar that I have been too scared to try for over two years, probably. I can do a 45 and a 35 on each side, but for some reason, that second 45 plate seemed insurmountable to me. On Friday, I did one singular squat for 225 (with a trainer watching me) and was happy. A small thing to overcome, but baby steps still get us to our destination, eventually. (Side note, it had been a long week. I needed an easy one to get me through LOL).
Saturday – Fear of Rejection. I am so sick of playing games, of carefully constructing my actions to appease others, and to be honest, is something Ive never been all that great at. Going forward, I am just going to be, just going to let myself say what I want to say, act how I want to act. If that “scares” someone away, well, then don’t let the door hit your wimpy ass on the way out. #BoyBye. I am open, I am direct and I will tell you how I feel. And on Saturday, I did. And guess what? No one ran screaming for the hills. We seem to place so much pressure on every single action, but take a minute and look at the mountains, or look down from the top floor of a building. As enormous as we believe every single thing we have going on in our lives, when you look at it from a different persective, we are really just a spec in the universe.
Sunday – Fear of Speaking Up. On Sunday’s I still serve at a restaurant called 1600. Over the many year sof serving, I’ve become accustomed to just shutting up and taking whatever rudeness-boarderlining-on-abuse that comes my way, simply in the interest of time. I don’t have the time, or energy to get into a verbal altercation with every person that crosses me. This past Sunday was different. Facing a customer that was unhappy, instead of taking his life-alterating issue of the temperature of his eggs lying down, I stood up for myself, and the restaurant. Suggesting to him in a polite, respectful manner that perhaps the reason his eggs were “overcooked and cold” was due to his being in the bathroom when they were ready, as opposed to any fault of myself or the kitchen, was enough to give the upset guest a reality check, and calm him down. Did the world end because I disagreed with the customer, who is supposed to “always be right?” No. In fact, it helped.
Were any of these things major, life-altering leaps? Not really. But I’m finding that each time I challenge myself, I stack another block onto my continually-under-construction self worth, building a foundation that I hope will allow me to withstand whatever life throws at me, As much as I hate to admit it, personal growth really does come from pushing yourself, even if youre pushing yourself right off a cliff of unknown outcomes. Scary? Sure. Worth it? Hell yeah.