When did you stop jumping off the high dive?
When did you stop introducing yourself to strangers?
When did you stop taking classes in topics you don’t know anything about?
When did you stop riding roller coasters that scare the crap out of you?
When did you stop playing against people who are better than you?
When did you stop volunteering for the tough assignments?
When did you stop asking the “stupid” questions?
When did you stop biting off more than you can chew?
When did you stop doing things that are new?
When did you stop doing things that might make people laugh at you?
In other words, when did you stop growing?
I get it. Comfort is alluring. Safe is, well, safe. And there are periods of our lives where these things should be our priority. But only for SHORT periods. As humans, we are uniquely made to overcome challenges. We are hard-wired to adapt. We are built to grow.
To grow, we have to step outside of our comfort zone.
Have you seen the kids riding longboards around your city? Longboarding is a relatively new form of skateboarding that uses a board that’s roughly twice as long as a regular skateboard.
Longboards are built for cruising and speed. In fact, most longboarders I’ve met are always on the hunt for longer and steeper hills to hurtle themselves down at near warp speed, no doubt attempting to rocket off to a distant planet where basketball shorts and backwards ball caps are acceptable attire for a job or a wedding. Before attempting to get on any of these yourself, check out this article from our friends at The Adventure Lab to learn more about the basics of skateboarding. They will come in handy if you try this yourself because the basic skills translate well.
I wanted one of these rockets for three years and couldn’t bring myself to pick one up. Two reasons:
- I sucked at skateboarding growing up and I was afraid I might suck at longboarding, too.
- Riding a longboard must be done on the street. In public. I mean, how ridiculous would it look for a 46-year-old dude to cruise by your house on a longboard?
So for three years I watched the kids flying freely down the street, a twinge of jealousy in my heart, thinking my time for such fun must surely now be in the past.
Then one day I saw an inexpensive longboard in a resale shop. I looked at it. I stood on it. I even cruised a few feet down the aisle at the insistence of the shopkeeper. Then I walked out without it.
I stopped in the parking lot and suffered an acute attack of reverse buyer’s remorse. I thought to myself, “You’ve wanted to do this forever. What’s your malfunction? Why aren’t you buying that stupid board?”
I couldn’t blame the cost. It was dirt cheap. I couldn’t blame my wife. She has told me on more than one occasion to just buy one and get it over with.
What kept me from buying it was my own fear of sucking at something and looking stupid to my neighbors in the process.
Sometimes You Just Have To Say “Screw it. I’m DOING it.“
Fortunately the shame of not practicing what I preach overpowered my fears, so I marched back in, bought the thing, and drove it home strapped into the front passenger seat so I could gaze at it giddily at every stop light.
That night I went for a ride and scared myself to death on the tamest hill I could find. There is no doubt that I am completely out of my comfort zone. And yet I keep going back for more. Because it’s fun. Because I’m learning something new. And because – in spite of my fears – it hasn’t killed me physically, emotionally, or socially like I thought it might.
Do my neighbors think I’m suffering from a mid-life crisis? Probably. Do they wish they had the nerve to do something new that they’ve always wanted to do? I’d bet a thousand dollars on it.
I need to get out of my comfort zone more often. How about you?
What will you do when you stop letting your silly fears get in the way? Leave a comment and let me know!