Comfort Zones

Everyone has a comfort zone. Some of us feel at ease on the dance floor, others on a sports field, and others yet in a classroom or library. Some prefer solitude while others hang out in crowded cafes. Though each of us relax in different ways, we can all agree on one thing: our comfort zones are, well, comfortable. And the happiness and security we feel within that comfort zone are great.

Unless, of course, you’re too scared to step out of it.

Life provides us a million opportunities to push ourselves — sometimes these challenges appear as something relevant to our passion, like a local writing contest or community talent show, and sometimes they appear as risks we want to take, like karaoke night at your favorite bar or an empty spot on the dance floor at a wedding.

Other times, you have to make your own opportunities. Maybe dress up as a cyclops.

Sometimes life is funny like that.

Natalie dressed as Turanga Leela

Futurama, anyone?

Fear and You

Like many things, fear is healthy in moderation — there’s nothing wrong with avoiding downed power lines or evacuating a beach community soon to be bombarded by a powerful hurricane. In these hazardous situations, our fear triggers a fight-or-flight response that helps keep us alive.

But what about other situations like submitting a novel to an agent, singing in a talent show, or trying a new sport? None of these are likely to kill you, but that same fear chokes us: What if we mess up? What if everyone laughs? Our fight-or-flight response triggers, and it’s hard to combat something as intangible as the fear of embarrassment. We wonder if it’s better to play it safe — maybe next time we’ll feel “ready.”

And then we retreat into our comfort zone and stay there.

Being judged is scary, especially when it’s our passion on the line. We avoid situations in which failure is likely — or even possible — because failing hurts.

I have good and bad news.

The bad? That fear of failure is never going away.

But the good news is, we have a choice. We can let that fear stop us — justifying it by saying we’ll get to it in the near future, when we’re “ready” — but often, that excuse means we don’t end up trying at all. It’s safer not to, so we push it off another week or month or year, and it never gets done.

Instead, choose failure.

"What's worthwhile is never easy." - Takeshi Konomi

You will never get over your fear of failure if you don’t fail. And guess what? Whatever you’re pursuing — be it writing or music or sports or a career — you’re going to fail at some point. Probably at many points. In fact, I’ve had about 10 pieces of writing published in my life, but my list of rejections is triple that.

Yes, failing sucks. But you can’t improve if you don’t try. No one became good — or even proficient — at anything without failing first. They didn’t wait until they were “ready.” They didn’t give up when things didn’t work out the first time, or the second, sixth, or twentieth. Life goes on. Harden your resolve and hang in there. Choose to fail.

Choices

Two years ago, leaving my comfort zone meant submitting my writing to a literary journal or magazine; now, though, submitting my work gives me a feeling of relief: I’m working towards my writing goals. Woohoo! Clicking “submit” isn’t the challenge it once was, and that means I need to expand my comfort zone in a new way now; I must choose failure again.

So I’ve decided to combat my cosplaying fears.

For those that don’t know, cosplay involves dressing up as a fictional character. If you’ve ever seen someone dressed as Harry Potter or Link from The Legend of Zelda, you’ve seen a cosplayer.

Taking on another persona like this is a pretty cool activity for a writer — we spend a lot of time creating characters and writing their stories. When I dress up, though, I feel a bit silly, like an imposter. I never act in-character for fear of saying the wrong thing. But this past weekend, I chose to attend New York Comic Con and cosplay Leela from Futurama.

nycc4

In the days before the con, I was terrified. What if I said something dumb? What if I didn’t know how to pose? What if I ran into a Fry cosplayer — or worse yet, a Zapp — and I couldn’t think of anything funny to say?

nycc2

Someone teach me how to look less awkward!! πŸ˜‰

Well, most of those things happened. I stand pretty awkwardly in most of the photos. I barely spoke to the otherΒ Futurama cosplayers I met. My in-character acting was nonexistent. In many ways, this was worst case scenario.

But you know what?

It was fun. The world didn’t end with the snap of a stiff photo. Nobody made fun of me when I didn’t banter with Zapp. I stood up to my fears and chose to leave my comfort zone. I spent a day in New York City, seeing some awesome costumes.

All in all, it was a pretty successful day.

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108 thoughts on “Comfort Zones

  1. When I went to my school’s first meeting for Quidditch, I was really nervous because a) I wasn’t good at sports and b) Quidditch is such a silly, nerdy sport and I didn’t want a reputation as a dork to follow me. But I forced myself to go and at least see how it was.
    To get us warmed up, the leaders had us grab a broom and run two laps of the pitch. So I did, but because I stopped to take off my jacket, I was last in the group. I didn’t even get a quarter of the way around before I straight up tripped on my broom and face planted. I lay on the ground lowkey laughing because it was everything I could do not to cry but all I was thinking about was “just leave. Say you’re hurt and leave and never come back.” But I forced myself to stay and keep doing the little drills they had planned. All while playing I considered leaving. I considered not attending another meeting and deciding “it’s not for me” but for some reason I stuck around.
    I guess I was desperate to be a part of something and Quidditch was really fun. I still struggle with the comfort zone thing but I know that having fun is more important. I’m a shy person so I’m always going to struggle to get out of my comfort zone, so I’m really proud of myself for doing what I did.
    I think that with all comfort zone conundrums, one had to just decided when it’s safe to step out and when it’s not. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 2 people

    • Good for you for sticking it out! πŸ™‚ That’s not an easy thing to do, especially when you’re embarrassed. I’m glad things worked out for you.

      Thanks for stopping by, and best of luck in all of your Quidditch adventures πŸ˜‰

      Like

  2. Wow, this is so awesome! Cool cosplay!
    I have a Comic Con coming up in my city too and I’m really excited for it! I’ve always been envious of cosplayers… the sheer effort they put it in is incredible and I hope that someday I get creative enough to do that too.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great post Natalie and honestly something I needed to hear.
    Giving me a boost to keep writing my own graphic novel and keep pushing forward in the midst of so many other things going on.
    And your Cosplay looks great, glad you had such fun at New York Comic Con, looked like a phenomenal weekend overall.

    Like

  4. This was such a great post! The way my fears most often hold me back is through procrastination. If I feel vulnerable or like there’s a chance that I won’t succeed, I tend to put things off for much too long – whether that’s applying for a dream job or emailing someone I admire. Recently, I’ve been putting off pitching some travel publications for a few weeks now, but I’ve put it at the top of my to-do list for this week.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Yeah. This is true. Reminded me of when I decided to study law in college. My uncle thought it was not a ‘female’ profession. And I almost let myself believe him. But guess what? Third year studying law and I’m doing great!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m a big fan of my comfort zone and staying in my safety zone. It’s so hard to step out and doing something you’re absolutely terrified of. My blog is actually me stepping outside of my comfort zone. I’m very introverted so putting my thoughts out for everyone to see is very vulnerable to me. But seeing it thrive and seeing the positive feedback makes every post worth it.
    Love that we are all being brave and pushing through the fear of judgement to be true to ourselves!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. My leaving my comfort zone is public speaking. I can write all day (with marginal success) but I cannot, no, will not, talk in front of people. even when I do youtube videos my personality becomes a sketchy husk of what it actually is. My ideas come across half thought of and not well explained. I am trying to expand my horizons by doing more social activities offline and not related to blogging! I love this post! I might think about re-bloging it sometime:/

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Reblogged this on The Bible Talks and commented:
    This awesome post has inspired me to do more in the way of public speaking! My comfort zone is a few people I know and trust and any other contact is usually quite awkward. I am going to try more youtube talking stunts and public talking opportunities in class and to prepare for Naval Academy.

    Like

  9. Oh, this was such an inspiring post! I admit I’m a bit of a coward, but then staying in my comfort zone all the time can get boring. I have a long way to go before I feel the courage to submit anything for professional publishing. However, writing a blog is, in some way, making me step out of my comfort zone even if just a little. I’m actually terrified every time I hit “publish”. What if I made gross English mistakes? What if it makes me look rude or arrogant, or I don’t know what else? Worse, what if the one person who reads it feel like they just wasted their precious time?

    Similar to your cosplaying fears, I’ve always been scared to stand out in a crowd and as such, I’d wear only clothes that made me look virtually invisible. Invisible kids don’t get picked on, invisible girls don’t get hit on, so invisible meant, for me, out of trouble or awkward situations. There were so many beautiful clothes that I would have wanted to wear, but I was scared they’d make me visible. In the end, I ended up daring (with nothing less than a full lolita outfit!) and you know what? Wearing clothes I love feels great. And on days I want to be invisible, I still can.

    So… yeah. Those two things, for me, weren’t so much to get out of my comfort zone for the sake of personal growth (which is admirable) as they were to do something I’ve always secretly wanted to do, but was scared to. Eventually, I should make a list of those other things I secretly wish I had the courage to do so next time I get bored, I’ll see if I can cross one!

    Like

    • “Invisible kids don’t get picked on, invisible girls don’t get hit on, so invisible meant, for me, out of trouble or awkward situations.”

      I totally understand that mindset. I went through all of high school and a chunk of college feeling that way. Being invisible was safe, and safe sounded good to me! But you’re right — I wasn’t satisfied like that forever. Personal growth doesn’t have to happen every second of every day; if you can convince yourself to try something here and there, that’s awesome πŸ™‚ I bet you rocked that lolita outfit!!

      Thanks so much for stopping by πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Congrats on stepping out of your comfort zone to do something that to me would be absolutely terrifying. I am not one to step out of my comfort zone out of fear, failure, and embarrassment. Being a very self-conscious person keeps me from stepping out like you did. Maybe one day I will muster the courage to do something that I normally wouldn’t do.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It doesn’t have to be something huge! There are many ways that we can step out of comfort zone without making a huge production out of it. If there’s something you want to do, take it slowly — and you may surprise yourself with how strong you are.

      Best of luck!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. It is so hard stepping out of your comfort zone. I personally could not go to comic con dressed up as anything. I would feel awkward, and that everyone was staring at me. But that is me. If I could get passed that I would totally do it! πŸ™‚ Good for you for pushing the boundary!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sometimes it’s easier to start with a small step — go to a party dressed as someone of your choice. Once you’ve done smaller things a few times, it’s easier to make those bigger steps, and that’s true for anything, whether it’s dressing up or writing or something else!

      Hang in there — and thanks for dropping by!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Thank you for sharing so open and honestly with your readers!!!

    I totally agree – we are never completely ready – we have to take the plunge. And you might have do whatever it is you are pursuing day after day after day….sometimes you will do well, sometimes you won’t. It doesn’t matter. As you pointed out, failure isn’t trying and not doing as well as you wanted, failure it not trying at all.

    I’m so impressed that you attended this event – so awesome πŸ™‚

    Like

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  14. This is great! No harm in taking a risk every now and then. Those who take risks (or leave there comfort zone) learn and grow so much more than someone who doesnt. Just cause you ‘fail’ means nothing. Treat it like a postive. Thanks for reinforcing that thought. X

    Liked by 1 person

  15. This is a great post. Everyone has the inner struggle between comfort and putting yourself out there. I go to comicon’s every year and never make a costume because I am afraid of the potential conversations with other characters as well. I have to say I am inspired and may begin working on my inner Rose Tyler.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I’m a fan of this piece for so many reasons. It’s just honest, I like your writing style it seems casual and personal I felt I was having a one on one conversation. Some fun pictures to go along with the piece nicely too 😊. And who can argue with the message, the comfort zone is fun and all, but you can have so much fun and grow outside of it

    Liked by 1 person

    • Awww, thank you! That means a lot to me πŸ™‚ It’s so important to try new things and continuously challenge ourselves — I think your new video posts qualify πŸ˜‰

      Thanks for stopping by, and best of luck with your blogging!

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Love this! Thank you for sharing your heart and your fear! It is a fantastic feeling when you conquer your fears. I think most of us have a fear of rejection and I can relate to feeling like “what if I say something stupid?” I think I’ve finally reached a point in my life where it doesn’t bother me as much. If I say something stupid, I just laugh and go on. There are worse things in life. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  18. I love this post. I constantly try to step out of my comfort zone for this very reason and sometimes I must admit I do rethink and retreat but I’m trying to get over this. I’m glad you’re trying out cosplay! I love it! I always used to dress up for things like World Book Day at school as for me this was a sense of not being ‘me’ and getting in to a persona was so fun!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. This is fantastic! I’m a total Trekkie, and a quote from Captain Janeway came to mind while I was reading this: “Fear exists for one purpose, to be conquered.”
    Your words here are so applicable to everyone rising to the challenge of writing. For me so much fear keeps me from creating what I want to create. Love this and your cosplay!

    Like

  20. This was really amazing… I have been into poetry for a long time now and I think I am one of the best procrastinator’s out there… Even though I love reading, I have never tried writing anything… I have recently started my own blog (after months of procrastination) and this post has really encouraged me… Even if it’s a small step, I think it will lead me to at least somewhere. πŸ™‚

    Like

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  25. Every post of yours is so Inspiring Natalie. It’s true that you never change your life until you step out of your comfort zone; change begins at the end of your comfort zone πŸ™‚

    Like

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