Comfort zones—we all have them.
Mine begins with writing, safe behind a screen, and ends abruptly at public speaking and networking in a room full of successful strangers.
You see, I know my limitations. I know them well, and despite that I try every day to expand them.
Recently, I went to 10 Downing Street, headquarters of the queen’s government (minor freak out). I was invited by an amazing networking group called DevelopHer and, to be honest, I was scared. It was a speed-mentoring event for rising women in tech. Having heard about it via Twitter, I applied a while back and never expected a response, let alone an invite!
I had so many questions: Would I sound stupid? Would my secretly shy self spend the event in a corner, alone? What do you even wear to such an iconic, prestigious place?
As I handed my invitation to the officials at the end of the street, I realized the intensity of what was happening. “Deep breaths,” I told myself as I attempted to walk like it was any old road on any old day.
Me? 10 Downing Street? Now there’s something I never expected to happen—not now, not ever. But it did. And it wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t taken a bit of a risk and ventured out of my comfort zone.
Truth be told, I’ve been on the pursuit of uncomfortable situations and life-changing things for a year or so now—it started when I began my blog, after years of self-doubt. Once I started writing about my career and life, I vowed that I would well and truly live my life. Thus, I’ve put myself forward in group settings, forced myself to speak up in male-dominated meetings, and traveled as much possible to places I never thought I’d see.
And I’m a hell of a lot happier for it.
To me, killing your comfort zone is about living a life of continual curiosity. It’s about not giving up when things seem hard, but persevering in the name of growth. It’s about having the conversations you feel you can’t, and trying the things that voice in your head says “aren’t for people like you.” Because that’s crap, and it’s time you started believing it.
Of course, there will be times when it’s easier to do than others. When you’re rundown and burnt out, you have the right to spend some time in bed alone. But, when life and circumstance allow it, I wholeheartedly suggest you expand your comfort zone a little more each day.
Identify the things that scare you, and make a list if you have to. Then, start saying yes—to the things you’d normally avoid and the opportunities you’d normally dismiss—even if it’s as little as attending a small group event, or grabbing coffee with a new co-worker. When it feels like you’re awkward and unsure, that is when it matters. That’s growth, right there.
Upon arrival at the event, I finally relaxed. The place was full of women just like me. If I’d stayed home that day, I would never have discovered the DevelopHer community and, my god, I’m glad I did. I left with a brand new mentor, an invaluable amount of advice, and more motivation than ever before.
Sometimes you won’t feel like getting dressed or putting your best face on and seeing people. You just won’t.
And yet you should. Go to the event. Sign up for the networking opportunity. Apply for the role you’re not quite “ready” for (but are qualified for). Embrace anything that makes you feel a little scared and uncertain. So often, the things that scare us are the things that change us for the better. And you’ll have a better chance of falling into your ideal career if you take that leap.
There’s a great Albert Einstein quote, “A ship is always safe at shore, but that’s not what it’s built for.” The same applies to you, my friend. You, with your brain, your body, your soul, and your creativity, were built to live your best possible life, not a sheltered one.
There’s no fun to be found in leading a life that’s less than the one you’re capable of. There’s no growth to be found in always staying home, doing the same old things.
So kill your comfort zone, one small step at a time.
This article was originally published on BiancaBass.com. It has been republished here with permission.