Stepping out of your comfort zone is never easy. No matter who you are. I stand by those words.
I’m not a Type A person. I literally just took a quiz on the internet to figure out how “Type A” I am – the response was “Seriously? You’re Type B. Get outta here.” I’m someone that naturally avoids confrontation and doesn’t say whatever is on my mind at any given moment. I’m an ENFJ whose love language is quality time. I have what I like to call a “wild” heart. I’m drawn towards art and nature and have way too many hobbies that tie into those two categories, and I can do some things pretty impulsively.
Despite all this, there was and is many things outside my comfort zone.
If I look closely at my adolescence and early adult years, I can see a girl who started dipping her toe outside the zone earlier than I thought. A girl who wasn’t afraid to pick up a new instrument or dye her hair tons of colors and risk being called names when she decided to get a pixie cut. I see a girl whose mom took her and later took herself to get ear piercings because she wanted them on an impulse. I see a girl who took some risks – taking the AP class, competing in the skilled event, running for the position. I see the girl who changed her major four times before the first semester even began, went on the internship in a state far away, and moved to a new city for a new job after graduation.
Despite all that, there was and still is many things outside my comfort zone.
In 2018, I documented all the “scary” things I did in a year. I called it “The Year of Overcoming Fear and Uncertainty.” I kept a simple note on my phone so I could look back and remember that those things weren’t so scary after all. Things like: ran my first 5k. Started drinking coffee and beer and acquired those tastes. Went to a stadium concert alone. Got my first tattoo. Shared videos of myself singing online for the first time. Served in my church in a new way through our homeless outreach. Had my first cavities filled. Started learning new recipes. Learned how to do eyeliner properly. Started actively dating and kissed someone for the first time. Found my dream job.
Now, three years later, I’ve pushed that boundary even further. I got a nose piercing and a visible tattoo (which if you’re a young, single person – that’s pretty intimidating and makes you super self conscious for a bit). I bought a kayak and a longboard and a surfboard. I do all those things alone and drive to the beach or park for sunrise to drink my coffee. I almost broke my ankle on my longboard. I started writing more – sharing these articles with y’all. I’ve seriously grown in my ministry work – I honestly can’t believe how much the quality of my work has improved in just a few years.
That list goes on. But there’s still things I’m terrified of inside. There’s still many things outside my comfort zone.
Like sharing a poem for the first time with the world (my deadline is to share one before 2022 begins so now you all can hold me accountable). Going hiking alone. Filming a TikTok. Actually popping up on my surfboard without falling (again). Travelling overseas. Writing and having many of these articles published. Starting a group that just wants to make outside places better. Sharing my faith with a complete stranger. Falling in love with someone and letting someone into my life in a romantic way.
Because I need to remind myself today – and hopefully if you’re reading this, this is what you’re here for – here’s the four things I’ve learned about pushing the walls of your comfort zone.
There’s a certain power that comes from making the things tangible and seeing them spelled out. You can think of it like a bucket list or goals you want to achieve in life. And they don’t need to be big things. Just remember all the little things that I did. Baby steps. Tip toeing out. My encouragement to you is to write down anything and everything that comes to mind. Keep it somewhere handy so you have it as a reminder. An easy way to do this each year: use your phone notes. Every year around December and January, I make a list of the things I want to do in the next year. I don’t call them “goals” or “resolutions” or even “ambitions” but just title the note with the year. Sometimes the thing doesn’t take much planning. Sometimes it does (more on that below). And when the day comes and you’re ready to take that next step on one of those things…
Make a memory of your progress. Cherish the moment. Confidently lean into that feeling. As the year goes on, I’ll either check mark them, or head to the bottom of my phone note to start writing down what I did for any of those items and write down the story behind overcoming it. Go back and reflect on those notes when you need encouragement later (just like I did earlier for my 2018 one). The feeling of being able to confidently overcome just one thing leaves me feeling inspired to take on something else. That baby step leads to a larger step. And often, that larger step leads eventually to a leap of faith. But if that baby step or larger step or leap doesn’t go as planned…
Read that line again. Grace comes freely, so remember to give yourself grace and lean into it. Stepping out of your comfort zone is not easy. It’s an unnatural feeling and outside the bounds of your daily life. Each person has a different threshold for being able to venture outward, so also remember not to compare your attempts to others. For each thing I’ve been able to do, someone has been able to do it much quicker and easier and more confidently and with even greater regard. What’s important is to remember that you’re doing this for no one else but yourself and your growth as a person. You’re not doing it for anyone else’s comfort zones. It’s for yours. Allow yourself to rest and try again when you’re ready.
This could start in your quiet time with making a list. Spend that time in prayer and ask Him to illuminate the scary things you can’t even fathom doing. Lean on Him when the time comes to take that step. Say a prayer for trust and confidence and grace. Remember that grace comes from Him, so even if you do fail, you can fall right into His arms and He’s there to catch you. There’s also tons of examples of stepping out of the comfort zone in the Bible. I could list them for a long time but here’s just a few great examples: Jesus – who became human and took on the humiliation of the cross and did a lot of things people thought were absolutely crazy. Mary – who was suddenly a pregnant, virgin teenager in the middle east who could have been stoned but listened to an angel and birthed Immanuel. The 12 Disciples – who quite literally dropped everything they were doing, their normal lives and routines and well-paying jobs and friend circles and hobbies, to live a different way. Paul – who did a 180 from being a guy persecuting Jesus and his followers to writing most of the New Testament from a prison cell because he stepped outside his comfort zone. Esther – who, in the unlikeliest of situations and finding herself as a young queen, nearly sacrificed her life to save her people. Nehemiah and Ruth and Jonah and Job. There’s many more where that came from.
I wanted to leave you by showing you what a next step looks like for me and remind you that you’re not alone in this fear. Like I mentioned in my list of scary things to do, I want to start sharing some of the poems I’ve been writing for literally years with my friends. I’d love to say I could just do this on an impulse, but alas, this has been on my list for over three years. It was on the 2018 list and it’s still here living on the 2021 list. It feels like one of the scariest things I’ll ever do. So I’m making a plan. I pray (A LOT) for the confidence to just do it. I have two close friends, who were the first I told, holding me accountable and following up with me. I’m choosing just one poem to start with – one that feels least scary. I’m figuring out HOW I want to share it – in a caption or as a graphic or a spoken word video which seems super duper scary. And I’m setting a date in my calendar before the deadline. A day to just trust and hit post. And if the day comes and the fear feels to heavy, I’ll give myself the grace once again to know that it’s okay. It’s my comfort zone. And as much as I want to push it, I can take that leap whenever. I’ll make a new plan. I’ll lean into the inspiration from my past overcomings. And I’ll release it into the world.
So dig in and let go. We’re all in this together.
Kat is a full-time ministry worker and has a passion for sharing the Gospel in creative ways. You can find her spending her weekends outdoors and on crazy adventures, reading a new book every week, attempting to perfect the art of making lattes, listening to all things indie and alternative, and binge watching Marvel, Star Wars, and action dramas.