I used to be (more) terrified of talking to strangers. Hell, even acquaintances and sometimes good friends. Especially some family.
I went to a horrifying college program that forced me to interview randoms on the street, was too cheap to hire MCs for a few Cockroach events and tabled with my zine at craft sales. In other words, I powered through a ton of panic attacks, cried my face off, dealt with nausea so bad I couldn’t eat and spent hours scrutinizing my every word months after have conversations.
It was all fucking awful. But, now when I need to ask someone on the street for directions, I don’t shake quite so much while doing it.
Late 2015, I realized that doing new things terrified me, which was why I’d never pumped my own gas. So, I decided to do one new thing per month in 2016.
Some things were really no big deal–like spending a night in a private campground–while others were kinda scary–like going on a 12 hour road trip alone. All were rewarding because I was so proud I’d inched out of my comfort zone. And in early 2017 when my now husband wanted to go rock climbing and skiing, I wasn’t quite so scared of doing something new as I would have been a year earlier. At that time, I probably would have had a panic attack at the mere thought of looking like a fool in front of him and faked being sick to get out of it.
As I get back into work after not working full-time for more than five months due to a concussion, a lot of the work I’m comfortable with is no longer there. I gave up my fabulous job at The Uniter and moved to Helena, Montana, where I can’t do freelance work for any local newspapers as I don’t have the work permits. In fact, there’s a lot of my usual work I can’t do for this reason.
So, I’m pursuing some new creative adventures. I’m writing a book, preparing to open a new Etsy shop with items for people who deal with anxiety and creating a free community zine library in my new hometown.
These are all things I may have done eventually, but having so many restrictions forced me to explore new projects a lot more quickly than I might have otherwise moved. Sort of like how challenging myself to try one new thing a month in 2016 pushed me to do a lot of super cool things.
As I push myself, my comfort zone will grow as will my skills. Maybe one day someone will approach me with a super bad ass project that’s outside of my realm of experience, but because I’m so used to being uncomfortable and exploring new territory, I’ll be able to take it on.
What’s your relationship with your comfort zone like, when it comes to your creative work? Are there ways you’d like to push it?