Initially the reason I wanted to start a blog was because I wanted to share the amazing experience that I had while sky diving, and the excitement that I got from planning and doing other comfort zone challenges. I also saw it as a way of keeping myself motivated and accountable (I get distracted/bored easily), so that I would continue to set and complete more and more comfort zone challenges. But as I went to press ‘Publish’ on my very first post, I realised that creating a blog and putting my musings out there for all to see, was going to be one of my most difficult comfort zone challenges.
Let’s be honest, starting a blog isn’t exactly an original idea. These days they are a dime a dozen. I’m pretty sure that by most Gen Y standards I am well and truly a Laggard. But for all the blogs I have read, and the stats that show you how common they are, there is one thing that I never realised – writing a blog is hard. From a technical standpoint, it’s actually pretty easy, especially with platforms like WordPress, Blogspot and Square Space (just to name a few). The hard, and might I stress uncomfortable part of writing a blog is exposing yourself, in all your “you-ness” to the world.
I was so excited to write my first post. In fact I got so into it that as I wrote it I re-lived the whole experience of skydiving, my palms were sweaty, my heart was racing and I had a crazy nervous energy running through me all over again. Thankfully there was less screaming (and swearing) involved this time, but while writing, the feelings and emotions were just as raw. And with that rawness the lessons that I shared really left me feeling pretty damn exposed. There I was, divulging all these fears and insecurities – and what I considered to be some of my biggest flaws. And as someone who prides herself on being strong, probably the most uncomfortable part was shamefully exposing my weaknesses.
But really, the thing that left me hovering over the ‘Publish’ button the longest was the part where I admitted that I had seen a therapist. In fact I deleted and reinserted those three little words over and over again before eventually deciding to push through the discomfort. I liken the feeling to standing on the edge of a freezing cold swimming pool and willing yourself to jump. Once you leap it’s never as bad as you anticipated – but I can’t even tell you how many times I was tempted I was to go back and edit out those few words.
Probably the most important thing you can do in any comfort zone challenge is ask yourself “Why?”. Why am I feeling so nervous (uncomfortable) right now? What am I so afraid of? And for me, the idea of admitting I had insecurities and more specifically that I saw a therapist, was that I would be perceived as being weak. I feared that people would think that there was something wrong with me, or that I just couldn’t cope. And you know what? There was a point where I just couldn’t cope. There were days where I didn’t want to get out of bed let alone face going to work or talking to other people. Not because work was bad, or I didn’t like the people I had to talk to, but because I just couldn’t face anyone or do anything without crying. I still find the feeling very hard to describe.
After uncovering what I was so afraid of I realised that what I really needed to do was to re-think my definition of strength. Is it strong to continue to struggle along when you are not coping? Is it strong to pretend there is nothing wrong and stick your head in the sand? Or is strength about recognising when there is a problem, seeking help and dealing with whatever it is that needs to be addressed? By questioning my idea of strength I have started to understand that there is strength in vulnerability, there is strength in relinquishing control and acknowledging that I don’t always have the answers. There is also strength in opening yourself up and letting go of what other people think about who you really are, flaws and all.
While I started blogging to tell others about my experiences, the whole process has become so much more. Each post I write I get to push past my discomfort, and overcome one of my biggest fears: A fear of the world knowing exactly who I am, judging me and ultimately not liking me. I don’t know how long it is going to take for me to be able to publish a post without getting this nervous feeling, but the point is that it is getting easier every time. And by putting myself out there I get rewarded time and time again. I get such a thrill when people tell me they relate to what I am writing about, and how I am feeling. Being truly Me allows me to make a connection with people more easily than if I was to continue hiding behind my wall of so-called strength.
It is strange to me that it is so hard to just be ourselves, especially so because it’s pretty damn counter productive. In my experience the people I have always been drawn to are the ones that are letting their own unique light shine, those who are quite obviously comfortable in their own skin. So, how can you be more you today? How can you stop hiding behind what you think other people want you to be and really own your uniqueness? Because, as Marianne Williamson said “As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.”