Many of us, myself included, often avoid being uncomfortable. It just doesn’t feel good. Why would we want to go out of our way to feel out of place, awkward, or not at ease? While we can try to avoid feeling uncomfortable, it’s completely unrealistic to feel comfortable all the time. Change and growth is part of life. Change is much more enjoyable when I embrace it, rather than fight or avoid it. In my personal experience, embracing the feeling of being uncomfortable has totally transformed my journey.
Example. I hated running when I first started. It sucks to sweat, be hot, not be able to breath, and push through pains in various parts of your body. I continued running through troubled conversations in my mind, shooting pains in my feet, and digestive issues. I committed to running a half marathon, trained for 4 months, and finished in under 2 hours. Running has become one of my stress relievers and I love how I feel when I run.Sometimes I have bad runs, but once I get through it I feel great.
Yoga and meditation was the same. I couldn’t do any of the positions. I couldn’t sit quietly for even a few minutes without looking around and wondering what everyone else was thinking. Sometimes I still can’t. Downward dog hurt my arms and my hips are just not open, whatever that means (still). I continued to practice yoga, and over the years I’ve learned to love it. It’s helped me relax and pay attention to what is going on within my body. I’ve also learned to love my body (most days), and even thought it’s physically/mentally uncomfortable to work out at times, it brings me so much happiness.
I feel the same way about international travel and volunteering. I’ve moved 4 times by myself and trust me, it’s not comfortable to move to a city where you don’t know anyone. Those experiences have taught me so much about myself and I’ve become very comfortable in my own skin. Volunteering abroad has forced me to step out of my comfort zone and it’s a beautiful thing. I’ve fallen in love with other cultures and learned so much about the world. I was terrified to get on that plane to go to Africa for the first time.
A mentor once said to me, “Julie, your feelings will not kill you.” I take this with me wherever I go. I think stepping out of my comfort zone and trying new things is such an important part of personal growth. While it might not be possible to master the art of being uncomfortable, I’ve learned to embrace all my feelings, even when they are not ‘good’. I challenge everyone to do something that makes them uncomfortable- ideally something what will lead to personal growth in a positive and loving way!
“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone” – Neale Donald Walsch