Transitioning from student to adulthood is hard for most graduates. The move was especially difficult for me. Even after graduating, I still didn’t know what I wanted to do. I started a job that my heart wasn’t into because I needed to work. Five years later, I’ve carved out a routine and have completely lost sight of what I want to do. My job was comfortable, but I wasn’t completely happy or fulfilled.
I got stuck in my comfort zone and that was a problem. I had to get out, but I’d recoiled at taking the initial steps. There was always some reason – real or imagined - preventing me from taking the leap. It’s a weird contradiction when the place that feels most familiar is also your biggest hindrance.
When looking for new opportunities, I made excuses to stay put. When writing, I was paralyzed by the blank screen. When invited to events, I was immediately drained by the thought of hobnobbing. These were all tell-tail signs that I was getting close to breaching my comfort level.
If I wanted to push through my boundaries, I had to leave the comfy area that left me feeling unsatisfied. I just didn’t know how. The challenge, although universal, felt so very personal. Who or what could advise me on something that was such an internal struggle?
I had to find something or someone to help me untangle this ball of anxiety. Personal networks were a good place to start. These are people that know you and often see your value in ways that you might overlook. I spoke to anyone who would listen to see what they thought.
First, they said, “go for what you want because no one could do it for you”. Making things happen required getting the ball rolling and I was the only one who could do it. The second, was to, “take baby steps”. The phrase “go big or go home” had no place here. These two things hit me like a punch to the gut. As they sunk in, I saw my reflection and what I saw was fear. I was scared: afraid of change, of failure, of allowing my true self to show.
I had to let go of these limiting beliefs if I wanted to shake things up. I cleared my head of all of the self-doubt, all of the voices that told me to stick to what feels safe. I was ready for change. This meant taking on new, albeit small, challenges, meeting new people (one at a time), and letting my goals guide me.
Last week I signed up to attend the Mission Collaborative’s open house. The butterflies are still in my stomach, the voices are still in my head, but I’m moving forward. In the end, I had to initiate the change that I want to see. What does leaving your comfort zone feel like to you?