I am scared of a million things, the biggest probably being my own insecurities. Yes, I’m terrified of heights and spiders, but the things that scare me the most are the ones that are there every single day.

I’ve always been insecure. I’m insecure about the way that I look and the way that I act. Will people like me? Am I not smart enough? Am I not good enough? Will I fit in? Because of all these daily insecurities and fears, sometimes I let them stop me from doing more, experiencing more. Maybe I’ll say no to applying for a summer program because I’m so afraid that I’ll get rejected. Maybe I’ll skip out on the opportunity to write online because I’m afraid of what my peers will think.

Am I not smart enough? Am I not good enough?

When I look back on my life, I don’t think that I ever truly started to step out of my comfort zone until middle school. It wasn’t until then that I started taking bigger steps, maybe even jumps towards new things.

As a tiny little sixth-grader, I stumbled upon a moment that didn’t just challenge me to take a step out of my comfort zone, but forced me to. In sixth-grade, theater class was required and it was about the last thing that I wanted to do. Although we put on a play in elementary school before as a class, I opted for a backstage role, as it was more in my comfort zone.

However, in my sixth grade theater class, I was forced to step into the spotlight, whether I wanted to or not.

As a small child with a strong fear of public speaking, I was not too excited about it. I couldn’t even imagine it. Actually no, I could imagine it, and that was the most frightening part. I could picture all those people staring and I knew that once I got on stage, I would inevitably shake and turn red, as that was always my default when it came to public speaking.

Going up there was the last thing that I wanted to do. But I made it out alive. When I was done, I realized that it wasn’t so scary.

The earth was still spinning. The world didn’t swallow me whole. Life went on. 

My fears were so insignificant in the grand scheme of life that it seemed silly that I was so frightened. And honestly? I kind of enjoyed it.

I wouldn't say that the moment onstage transformed into a lifelong passion. While that might have been the fictionalized version, in reality, I formed a new appreciation for it instead. It was a less frightening version of facing my fears.

In theater, it’s easier to be blinded by the lights and pretend to be someone else than it is to give a speech, and maybe that’s why I was drawn toward it, as a middle-ground for my fears. However, I don't really think that why I was interested in it really mattered, what mattered was that it was something new and completely out of my comfort zone that I was suddenly open towards trying.

If someone had asked my sixth-grade self what she might imagine my future would look like, she probably would not have expected that I would have gone on to participate in more plays. 

I realized that theater could be fun, that public speaking was not as scary as it seemed. Stepping out there, putting myself out there, was one of the best things that could have happened to me. Although it wasn’t necessarily a life transformation, every moment on stage helped me to get over my fear of public speaking, to stop my fears from stopping me.

After that moment, I think that I finally realized that there was more that I could do, that I could be. It was like opening the first door (of many) of trying new things, even if they were scary and uncomfortable. While I have not performed in any plays beyond middle school, for me, theater was the thing that forced me out of my comfort zone and gave me a little taste of what it was like.

Following sixth-grade was a series of leaps out of my comfort zone. It was then that I realized how rewarding it could be once I got over the initial discomfort. I learned to start trying new things: cake decorating classes, applying for leadership positions, learning HTML. These things were all entirely different. And the thing is that with some of these steps out of my comfort zone, I felt vulnerable, completely out there, but I learned to deal with it. It’s not fun at first, but all of the uneasiness and self-doubt eventually fade away.

I found that when I step out of my comfort zone, I have no regrets. 

I learned that it was important to have more experiences, even though they might be scary and could end up poorly, because even if they did, I would be able to walk away knowing what would have happened instead of always wondering, “What if?” The only regrets that I have with stepping out of my comfort zone are the moments that I didn’t step out enough, and that’s what I’m trying to eliminate.

Stepping out of my comfort zone is not a one time thing. It’s not something that I can just check off a to-do list, saying “That’s done!” Because every day that I try to step out of my comfort zone, there’s always the fear stopping me from doing what I want with my life, and I have to overcome it.

The insecurities are always there. But just because they’re there, doesn’t mean that it’s not impossible to shake, I just have to weather the storm in order to see the rainbow on the other side. 

I mentioned before that I had a lot of insecurities and fears. However, at the end of the day, the biggest fear that I have is not being happy. Would I be happy if I said no to new adventures? Would I be happy if I missed out on something that could have been the best experience of my life?

There are millions of opportunities in life, but I realized that I won’t be able to experience them if I stay within my bubble of comfort. When I step out of my comfort zone, sure it’s scary, but I’m happy after. I’m happy that I tried something new and didn’t let my fears stop me. All those little fears in the moment are nothing compared to the fear of missing out on life. Yes, I’m afraid and insecure, but I’m not going to let my comfort zone stop me from living more, learning more, and smiling more.

What Stepping Out of My Comfort Zone Taught Me

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