How Do I Break Out of My Comfort Zone?
Do you have any advice for putting yourself out there? Or for doing something risky that forces you WAY out of your comfort zone? I need help taking risks, whether it's something as small as style advice or something as big as how to get the guts to protest as a teen.
Here’s the tricky thing about a comfort zone: most of the time, you don’t even realize that you’re inside of one. So simply by asking this question, you’ve taken the first tiny step out of it. Yay! Now the real challenge begins. Risk means something different to everyone; it can be anything as ordinary as wearing ‘90s Levi’s when you normally wear skirts, or something as major as moving to a new country where you don’t know anyone. Most of our risks fall somewhere within these two extremes.
If you’re not sure where to begin, enlist a friend’s help. Just take it from 15-year-old Soumya: “A great way to get out of your comfort zone is to find a buddy to try something with you. If I'm nervous to try out new clubs or activities, I find a friend who is new to the activity as well and we do it together.” Not only does it automatically make things easier when you have a pal with you, but it's fun to try new things with others. Cheesy as it sounds, your friendship will 100% be stronger for it.
But you can’t always bring a friend along (see: moving across the country, going to a new school, etc.). You might have to force yourself and brace for the awkwardness. But just do it and know you’ll survive it. “It can be hard and nerve wracking, but sometimes you just have to go and conquer it,” said Lauren, 21. It helps to know that you’re not alone in your state of anxiety. Erin, 15, said, “Don’t be afraid!!! Everyone feels just as awkward as you do, I promise. If you tell yourself that there’s absolutely nothing to be afraid of, it’ll be a lot easier to make big moves and get control of your own life.” They’re not wrong! But hey, sometimes it’s easier said than done.
Occasionally you have to resort to faking it until you make it. Lying is bad, sure, but lying to yourself—as long as it’s for a good reason—is sometimes necessary. “Whenever you're nervous, a good psychological trick is to convince yourself that you’re excited,” said Shaylie, 17. “Then you’re more willing to get out there and do things because you’re not nervous, you’re excited.” It’s what a shrink and/or self-described “self-help expert” might call “reframing.” Instead of just focusing on the worst that could happen, Olivia, 18, says to also “remember to ask yourself, 'What's the BEST thing that could happen?'"
Finally, Mae,18, once received some advice that's so good, you have to hear it too. “Someone very very wise told me that it takes ‘Four seconds of insane courage.’ I tell myself that every time I’m doing something new and scary—and it helps a lot.” So gather your courage and get ready to take a leap out of your comfort zone. You won’t regret it.