On stepping out of your comfort zone

I used to be brave. I used to speak my mind without hesitation. I articulated my opinions easily to people my own age and to adults. It’s sad to me that this might surprise people who know me now. Somewhere along the way I became timid, and I can’t pinpoint exactly where that happened. I think things started to deteriorate in high school.

My point, with all this preamble, is that I just applied to give a talk at TEDxTufts. Who knows if I’ll be chosen – it’s incredibly competitive. If, by some miracle, I did get it, I’d have to get on stage and speak in front of hundreds of people. And I would be recorded, and the video would be posted to a YouTube channel with 15 million subscribers. This terrifies me. I don’t find it easy to share anything I have written, not to mention sharing it in my own voice, coming out of my own mouth, living on the internet forever. It absolutely fucking terrifies me.

So why do it? Because it terrifies me. And because I care about the proposed subject of my talk. It’s cliche, but most of the things I’ve done in my life that I’m most proud of were also the scariest. Part of this is no doubt the rather convenient way our minds and bodies forget the sensations of pain and panic. If I could remember exactly how terrified I was the last time I did something, I probably wouldn’t do it again. But since those memories are dulled, I’m able to step out of my comfort zone again and again.

I don’t want to spend a lot of time espousing the merits of stepping out of your comfort zone, and how it’s a catalyst for personal growth. Mostly, I want to say that just because something is scary, doesn’t mean it will hurt you. Scariness alone is not a good enough reason not to do the thing.

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