This is a story of trying new things…and the regret of listening to others. It’s probably a familiar story to some.
Picture this: it’s 2010 and I have just returned from a successful 20th high school reunion. I looked good. My friends looked good. We had fun and I reconnected with a few from my small graduating class. I was a very ambitious student with big dreams that equaled my big bangs (yay, 80’s). My big goal was to get to college, get some knowledge, and take over the world…and get out of my small town.
In reality, I went to college, got that knowledge, and literally married the first boy I met on campus my freshman year two weeks after graduation. Take over the world I did not. My world was now a beautiful home in Colorado (far from that small town) with four kids in tow, a couple cats, and my husband. I was a stay-at-home mom with her hands full. Revisiting those young woman dreams made me realize I had created a very safe and beautiful life…but routine.
Comfort Zone Smashed
After coming home I decided to do the craziest thing I could thing of…so I signed up for a local 5K run. Mind you, I faked cramps to get out of any kind of running ever in high school. That’s why it was so out of my comfort zone. I’d always been proud of my lack of athletic prowess.
That day came and the race was the best/worst time of my life. I became addicted to running and walking and yoga. My fresh perspective on life and grew into a beautiful part of my life’s story.
The Routine of Routines
Routines can become so….routine that we forget that we are living a short life, not just an existence. Do you realize that we are living on a planet hurling through endless space that has 7 distinct continents, nearly 200 different countries, more than 7 billion people with thousands of languages, and hundreds of thousands of unique experiences and points of view?
Oof. Let that sink in. When we allow others or our inner voices to define who and what we are or place ourselves in a box, it’s no wonder we feel stale and stagnant.
It’s normal to feel stuck.
My favorite author and podcaster, Kate Bowler always says “Life is a chronic condition.” Read more of her story of breaking out of her comfort zone here: https://blog.tedmed.com/qa-with-kate-bowler/. We try to find safety and comfort in the familiar and well-worn paths.
And life is also a short trip meaning to be lived and experienced. Jumping out of your comfort zone can bring a new fresh perspective to your days and invigorate your life.
5 benefits of trying something new:
- Overcoming fear. As we grow and learn and mature, it’s often important to realize what our fears are, where they stem from, and let them go. The only way to defeat them is through head-on confrontation.
- Get to know yourself better. When I started running in my late 30’s, I learned that I can handle a ton of pain and I could push myself farther than I ever thought possible. I also learned I am not fast but I can run ridiculous distances and I didn’t care. I felt free to embrace my own path and not compare myself to others. Find your edges. Push on that comfortable box a bit. Make those around you nervous.
- Stimulate your courage and creativity. When you try something new, you find a new creative narrative about yourself that you never knew. You can look at your problems differently. As with any muscle, the more courage you use, the more you have.
- Forces you to grow. Why are we so quick to set ourselves in stone? I would never do this…or try that. Rarely are the consequences of trying something new life altering. Trying a new step makes you redefine yourself. Betsy Valdez wrote a beautiful blog about growth here: https://thewespot.com/growing-through-all-that-were-going-through/.
- Gain new perspective. When you step out to a new place in your life, you are going to experience things you never had, meet people you never would have come across, and see yourself in a way you never would. A fresh new perspective to this world can bring lots of benefits to your life and connect you to your surrounding world in a better way.
Bring Courage to Others
In a small school, I was afraid of athletics because I didn’t want to look like a bad player so I never tried. My biggest regret in life is when I was a senior, I wanted to try out for basketball. I am 6 foot tall and I just wanted to try something new. Plus it was the second to last season of 6-on-6 basketball in the nation… (an amazing history that you should look up). A friend of mine told me how stupid I would look and told me not too. So I didn’t. I probably wouldn’t have made the team but I still think going to practices and the building of a team would have been worthwhile. What great stories I would of had!
I wish I would have found one person to encourage me. It would have bolstered my courage a bit. So now I am sure to always push others to try new things because if you never try you will never know. And no matter how it turns out …you will always have a great story.