Stepping Out of The Comfort Zone
“In any given moment, we have two options: to step forward into growth or to step back into safety.” (Abraham Maslow) As a person who struggles with anxiety, I tend to spend a lot of time living in my comfort zone. I am very aware that if I avoid stepping out, I will have to feel and confront my fears. During the first lockdown in 2020, I was feeling brave and I took quite a few steps out of my comfort zone, which eventually led to releasing my first single. As a result, I thought it would be easier to continue stepping out of my comfort zone, but after more than twenty-five years of writing songs alone in my living room, it still feels natural to stay there.
The Cloak of Invisibility
A big part of my comfort zone is to avoid being seen, to keep my heart hidden. My boys are fans of Harry Potter, so I have seen all the movies. In “The Sorcerer’s Stone”, Harry is given a cloak of invisibility which enables him to eavesdrop and sneak into forbidden places undetected. Growing up as a very shy perfectionist, I developed my own cloak of invisibility. In order to manage my anxiety, I did everything I could to stay hidden. I did my best to avoid risking criticism, rejection and failure. Staying hidden has been very effective for managing my anxiety, but over time I have seen how it robs me of authentic community and connection. Stepping out of my comfort zone means taking off my cloak of invisibility.
Stepping out of our comfort zone always involves confronting fear. In another Harry Potter movie, “The Prisoner of Azakapan”, there is a scene where all the students are learning the “Riddikulus” spell. Each student approaches a wardrobe which opens and manifests their greatest fear. As they face their fear, they redefine it in their imagination, transforming it into something humorous and harmless, pointing their wand and shouting, “Riddikulus!” Well, I am no wizard with a magic wand, but I do find that when I face my fears, they never turn out to be the danger they claim to be. As long as they are in my imagination, my fears have power. But when I face them, they are powerless to harm me.
Recently, I took a step out of my comfort zone and participated in an online co-writing session with two very experienced songwriters. This was my first time co-writing, so I was very nervous. Sharing songs with people takes a lot of courage because it exposes my heart in a more vulnerable way than any other area of my life. And in this case, I would be sharing with people who are far more skilled than I am. What if my ideas aren’t good enough? What if I have nothing to contribute? Ridiculous! I knew this opportunity was worth confronting my fear!
On the Other Side of Fear
There are so many treasures to be found on the other side of fear. And this experience was no exception. It was such an honour to be in the presence of such talent and experience. I felt like a small child walking between two adults, one on either side of me. Instead of feeling small, their strength lifted me up. They took me by the hands and swung me forward at a pace I could never go on my own. Taking that step out of my comfort zone weakened the fear of not being good enough and showed me how much better I can be when I allow other people in. We aren’t meant to do life alone. And if we never step out of our comfort zones, we will never find out all we can be.