Step outside of your comfort zone.
As a traveler, this is one of the most important things you should know how to do. However, it’s much more important to do this as a human being, traveler or not.
As a kid, I was afraid of a lot of things. I remember vividly what my comfort zone was when I was about 7 years old. I lived on a street in a quiet suburban neighborhood, I played with the kid next door all the time, and my favorite thing in the world was my Nintendo 64.
It was just one street in the whole development, a small place. There was only one entrance. I remember walking there and being terrified of going any further. To the right, a ten minute walk would get you to the center of town, and to the left was a road the led into a very rural part of town with farms and horses. Neither was particularly scary, but I didn’t want to get lost.
My comfort zone was that street. I never broke out of there as a kid. I was never able to leave on my own and walk in either direction. I was confined. Staying on that street was all I knew how to do when I went outside. I wasn’t much of an explorer.
Did it feel that way as a kid? No, my only concerns as a 90’s kid were video games, Nickelodeon, and candy. But as an adult, it’s much easier to feel confined. Your house, your job, school, a relationship, finances, whatever it is we can feel like there’s no way out. We become trapped and it becomes the norm. Often, people are okay with this. School is an investment to obtain comfort, a house is often our special place of comfort, and a job is necessary to obtain the comfort of money.
Comfort is often a good thing. But what about too much comfort? With too much comfort we become stagnant. Life stops being dynamic and it becomes static. All we start to know is our daily lives. It becomes the same routine from week to week. We stop learning about what’s outside of our comfort zone. We become stuck and we don’t even realize it.
In my opinion, this is a problem if only for one reason:
We’re all natural dreamers.
When you were a kid, what were your dreams? I mean those dreams that gave you all kinds of energy, the ones that kept you up at night or the ones that came while you were sleeping. The dreams you wouldn’t stop talking about to your parents or friends or teachers about. The dreams that gave you the funny feeling in the pit of your stomach. What did you pretend to be when you went outside to play? What did you endlessly search for on the computer? When you’d doze off in school, what did you constantly think about? What did you want to be? I mean what did you really want to be, whether it was possible or not? Think back, and think about if you’ve ever abandoned those dreams.
I mentioned before that I wasn’t much of an explorer when I was a kid. I wasn’t, but I always dreamed about it. The dream was my comfort zone. That was acceptable when I was a kid because I couldn’t really do much about it. I didn’t know how. On the way to adulthood I realized I had abandoned my dream of exploring, so I sat down and thought about it. How could I make it happen? How could I experience the world and discover what it had to offer me? I had to step out of my comfort zone. I had to leave my street.
If you’re in your comfort zone right now, stop for a second and look around. What is it like and do you enjoy being there? Or do you have some childhood dreams you’d like to revisit? If you do want to revisit them, think about them. Get that childhood feeling back in the pit of your stomach and approach each day with enthusiasm. Dream again, and keep doing it. How bad do you want it?
Make it happen. Do what it takes to live your dreams. You only get one life to do it and you’re never too old to make it happen. Don’t be the person who waits, you never know how long you have. Don’t look back on your life when you’re retired and say “I wish I could have done that”. Your life has value.
Do it now. Step out of your comfort zone. You’ll never regret making the effort.