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Stepping out of your comfort zone

Courage

My comfort zone is comfortable… I know what I’m doing, most of the time, and I know where I’m going, some of the time. But I have a problem with it – it’s way too comfortable, like a pair of old slippers that are nice and warm.

In recent years I’ve been challenging myself to do things that are out of my comfort zone. I applied to be on the Youth United Foundation Youth Panel and was successful. I’ve been to London and explored on my own, taking the day at my own pace and being able to see sights I might not if I’d a planned itinerary with friends. I’ve been to the theatre alone. I’ve applied for different roles in my company and wasn’t successful.

Being out of your comfort zone doesn’t mean you’re successful at all you do. To me, it means I’m trying something new. I may be happy where I am or with what I’m doing, but if I don’t try something new how do I know if I like it or not, how do I stretch myself or learn new things.

I had a week of annual leave in September, I’d absolutely nothing planned which was quite shocking for me. On day 1 I decided to hike a mountain on my own. Disclaimer here – from the age of 7 I’ve frequently hiked this mountain with my family, usually with a guidebook in hand to be sure of the route. However, I turned up, ill-prepared having forgotten the guidebook, and completed my first solo hike, scrambling a waterfall, making my way across peat, slightly losing the path due to the peat, and finished the hike down Jacob’s Ladder into the lovely village of Edale.

Day 2 was a bit of a struggle with knowing what to do. But, when I got home from the hike, I went to Google and picked a National Trust house to visit, where I could walk around the grounds and learn about the history of the house. This was great fun. I visited Kedleston Hall, managed to look at the Peacock Dress which the Hall is known for. I spoke to the guides in the rooms, and I spoke to other visitors. I’d normally absorb the history and only speak with the guides if I was with another person and they’d spoken first.

On day 3 I decided to visit Belton House – it’s fairly local to me, and a place I’d visited as a child but I hadn’t appreciated it then. I enjoyed a warm day walking around the grounds, grabbing some lunch, looking in the book and gift shop but I wasn’t able to explore the house, as I’d misread the website and it was shut.

On day 4 I went to Doncaster. I met my mum for lunch in central Doncaster and then headed over to my third National Trust location – Nostell. I again took the opportunity to push myself and talk with different people around the house.

Day 5 was an interesting journey, it was hot and when I got to the village where Oxburgh Hall was I couldn’t find any signposts! I’d pushed myself this week to talk to everyone on my solo journey of National Trust sites, however, the majority of the hall was closed due to woodworm and restoration work, so my learning and pushing myself out of my comfort zone was very limited.

Some people may read about my week of pushing myself and think that’s not pushing yourself, but to me, my comfort zone was stretched. I’d driven to many different parts of the country, explored alone, and learned and discussed history with many different people.

Pushing yourself or challenging yourself to do something you wouldn’t usually do can feel empowering. So, this is my challenge to you, go to the cinema alone, drive or get the train to somewhere you’ve never been but have wanted to explore, book for that gym class, do the thing that makes you nervous! You might be surprised how much you enjoy it.

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