When I was 16, I took a job as a waitress at a restaurant. My work experience at that time entailed years of baby-sitting and about a few months as a cashier at the local Piggly Wiggly – two jobs that came rather easy to me.
But waitressing was a completely different story. For starters, I was pretty awful at it. I never seemed to have the right answers – or any answers for that matter. (i.e. Customer: “Is the blackened chicken really blackened or just kind of blackened?”), The whole “multi-tasking” thing was just on an entirely different level and I am still scarred from that one time I spilt an entire pitcher of ice water on a mother. On Mother’s Day. (How waitstaff balance huge trays of randomly weighted objects and do not spill them constantly is a talent I will forever envy.)
Anyway, while it was a rather unremarkable gig on the surface, my waitressing days were life-changing. My teenage self was plucked right out of my no-sweat comfort zone every single night. I had to think on my feet, remember 87 things at once and defend myself when the cooks accused me of not grabbing the meals fast enough (i.e. I grew thicker skin).
On the eve of my first pageant in college, I paced backstage trying to come up with some believable excuse to get out of performing that night. My anxiety was through the roof. Actually, to say I had anxiety isn’t adequate; I was terrified. I was so far out of my comfort zone, the boundaries were not even remotely visible. While I was pacing backstage, I told myself: I will never, ever do this again. (Ha!)
But like a lot of people who step outside their comfort zone, I surprised myself that night. I did make it through the evening and dare I say, I had a little fun along the way. Actually, I felt totally changed after my first solo performance on stage; it was as if a whole new world of possibilities opened up for me. And that is the beautiful thing about the comfort zone – whether you tiptoe outside it or get yanked like I did that night: Life really does change.
Of course, you don’t have to sign up for a pageant to step outside your comfort zone. 🙂 You don’t even have to quit your job or move out of state or agree to give some big speech (unless you feel those things will bring boundless happiness!). I love the idea of “thinking big, doing big” but sometimes, even the teeniest micro-steps outsize ‘the zone’ will yield for you some magic. ✨
There is probably someone less talented doing exactly what you should be doing right this very instant. Once you quit resting on your laurels and slice through that sense of security, I bet you’ll uncover juuuust enough gumption and bravery to go do that thing you’ve always wanted to do. And when I swear I’m fresh out of gumption and bravery, I try to ask myself: Well, why the hell not? If it could change my life in only the best of ways, why not? Why wouldn’t I want to learn more about this world, and shape my story within it?
Time to get comfortable being uncomfortable.