As I took a big gulp of my papaya lemon tea, I thought intently about the advice I had just been given. I was casually chatting with a senior park manager of a local park conservancy in an effort to gain some insight on my future career path. “Always go for the thing that makes you scared and uncomfortable,” she said. “Every scary decision I’ve ever made has paid off.”
I thought about what that concept meant within the context of my own life. Was I playing it safe? Was I open to taking risks both in my career and in my life in general? I wasn’t sure. I continued drinking my tea and fell deeply into thought.
Less than a week after that exchange, I found myself in a place I typically felt very comfortable — a concert venue. I had seen more than one hundred shows throughout the years, though this one was different. I had two tickets, but was unable to find a friend to accompany me, despite my best (and most desperate) efforts. This threw me off, but I knew the easiest place to blend in was in the sea of inebriated concert junkies waiting to see their favorite artist. The only problem? I wasn’t swimming in that sea. My previously unobservant eyes later confirmed that my ticket was for a balcony seat.
I thought about whether I should bother heading up the stairs or if it was best to just head back home. I didn’t want to be at a concert by myself, let alone in a place where I couldn’t easily hide. I felt angry, which is an emotion commonly felt during times of vulnerability and discomfort, which Brene Brown mentions in her book, Daring Greatly.
After about 30 minutes of sitting with myself and my anguish, I decided to make the best of the situation. This included fighting against the negative thoughts I assumed others would soon say about me like, “Look at this sad girl who came here all alone,” and “She must be a weirdo if she doesn’t have any friends with her.” I took a deep breath and walked myself towards the back of the balcony. I had a plan.
After making myself at home in one of the empty rows, I stacked a few chairs to give myself some dancing space, and you know what? I went buckwild — all by myself. People definitely noticed, but I was having too much fun to care. I sang, I danced, and I made friends with Security. I left the show a few hours later with a smile on my sweaty face. I was really proud of myself.
On the subway ride home, I thought about the advice I was given just a few days prior. Doing things that scare you are wonderful things to do. And I intend on challenging myself a lot more from now on (stay tuned for my “Say Yes” challenge next month).
Let me know how you’ve stepped out of your comfort zone.