It’s nice to be comfortable. You know what you're getting into, and you don’t need to expect many surprises or fear the unknown. The question is, where will that take you? If you want to get ahead in a personal hobby, a relationship, or work, you need to take a step out of the comfort zone and put yourself out there, even if it's uncomfortable at first. It's the only way to get to where you need and want to be and follow your personal path to your best potential.
I’m a perfect example of this. When I first began a yoga practice many years ago it was threatening to me because I didn’t feel as though I was as good as the other people in my class, and the poses were foreign. On top of that, I don’t like being in situations I can’t easily get out of, so being in a group exercise class seemed really claustrophobic. I came to class early to make sure I got the spot in the back row right next to the door. For the first few (or more like 20) classes I felt nervous prior to the class but still pushed myself to go, and in the process I fell in love with the practice of yoga and began a home practice in addition to my studio time.
Within a few years of doing yoga I felt in the core of my being that I wanted to be a teacher. I looked up to my teachers, but thought that my fears of being in front of a class and “stuck” in a situation would prevent me from ever becoming one of them.
Well, a few years passed and the urge to go through teacher training was undeniable so I enrolled in a 200-hour training with an open mind, but was still skeptical of the fact that I’d ever be able to get in front of a room of people and teach them asanas.
Teacher training progressed, and the community classes we were required to do for graduation seemed like a million light years away. Before we knew it they were upon us. I had a full-blown panic attack the week before my first class and considered canceling it; I had visions of myself running out of the classroom leaving a room full of stunned yogis in mid-pose.
Once the height of my anxiety was behind me and I started thinking rationally again, I realized that this was just another rung on the ladder, and that it was a rite of passage I needed to push myself through in order to get to where I want to be. I made it through that class with a mix of strangers, my dear friends and my husband, and as we chanted our final om at the end of class I felt exhilarated, accomplished and like a weight was lifted off of my shoulders.
After that came my first paid class, which brought back similar feelings of anxiety and apprehension. I had a hard time believing that people were paying money for me to teach them something. I was convinced they would do one class and never invite me back.
You know what? They loved it, and I’ve been teaching them ever since. I’m still a fairly new teacher, and my heart rate still rises a little before a new class, but within moments the feeling of fun and freedom and interacting with people, teaching them something I love is pure joy. I feel as though the possibilities this opened up for me are endless, and I have limitless opportunities ahead.
I could still have been planting my mat in the back corner of the studio, and probably would have had a fine time between that and my home practice, but look at everything I would have missed out on if I hadn’t just used my fear as a motivator and pushed through. If you want to cruise through life, it is fine to put yourself on autopilot and enjoy the ride, but if you really want to achieve things that you only dream about, take a big step outside of your comfort zone, and I guarantee you won’t look back.
The great thing is that the more you put yourself out there, the more you will become comfortable. Things that once seemed daunting will become normal, and things that once seemed impossible are now merely daunting. Like climbing a ladder, navigating through your fears and taking risks is the only way to reach your highest potential. Put yourself out there and reach for the stars.